Director, Foundations and Grants

PEN America, a nonprofit organization that stands at the intersection of literature and human rights, seeks an experienced, persuasive, and highly organized director of foundations and grants. The successful candidate will have exceptional writing skills and the strategic approach and demonstrated capacity to continue to grow PEN America’s portfolio of institutional donors and grants. The director and team work closely with senior leadership at PEN America, and foundations relations is considered a critical function within the organization. This is a full-time position based at PEN America’s New York City headquarters and requires flexible in-office presence.

The director will be responsible for developing and executing foundations relations strategies; developing, preparing, and managing letters of interest, proposals, and reports; identifying, collecting, verifying, and reporting on grant deliverables; tracking documents and program information required by funders; and identifying and coordinating approaches to prospective funders. The director will work collaboratively with senior leadership and program staff to coordinate cultivation and solicitation efforts with government and foundation donors, and ensure excellent stewardship of relations with existing funders.

The successful candidate will be able to write outstanding grant proposals that demonstrate  dexterity with language and the ability to convey our organizational vision and programmatic plans insightfully. This individual should be able to grasp and extrapolate on the wide range of PEN America activities in response to funding opportunities. The ability to manage multiple deadlines while building key partnerships is crucial to success in this role.

This key and valued role is central to building the robust foundation funding that makes it possible for PEN America to advance its mission. The director works across the diversity of PEN America’s programming, including developing support for free speech advocacy, campaigns to defend writers and journalists at risk, public events on issues of public interest, literary festivals and awards, and fellowships that support emerging writers. The director currently has one direct report, the foundations relations assistant, and will report to the chief development officer.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Develop and prepare LOIs, grant proposals, and grant reports for current and potential funders, including producing clear, concise, and compelling content and effective presentation
  • Work with program teams to develop strategies and program designs responsive to foundation funding opportunities
  • Maintain up-to-date information on grant status, including proposals in development, proposals submitted to funders, and requests for proposals that have been issued
  • Draft fundraising-related text for contribution to Board reports, and other materials as needed
  • Generate reports for donor analysis, strategy, decision-making, and submission
  • Prospect for new foundation funding opportunities and communicate regularly with program staff on new prospects, potential program designs, and strategies for identifying additional funding for current projects
  • Coordinate with program and finance staff to compile written grant reports with narrative and financial reports and other required documentation

Working with the Foundations Relations Assistant, the Director Will:

  • Develop and maintain a thorough understanding of grant agreements and maintain donor files
  • Coordinate contacts and maintain donor database with responsibility for tracking deadlines, communications, awards, contact information, follow-up tasks and reporting requirements, using Raiser’s Edge
  • Manage grant processing and write acknowledgment letters:
  • Develop and maintain professional working relationships with contractors, funders, donors, foundation staff, and government agencies
  • Coordinate correspondence with funders, and handle inquiries regarding submission dates and guidelines
  • Review government and funding proposals to ensure compliance and regulatory requirements
  • Manage department tracking tools, including deadline lists and income projections


  • Exceptional writing skills with demonstrated ability to prepare dynamic, persuasive proposals and other funder communications that are calibrated to be responsive to the funding opportunity
  • A minimum of four years of professional experience with a proven track record of successful proposals securing six-figure-plus awards from foundations and other grantmakers
  • Highly organized with excellent attention to detail and accuracy is a must, as well as the ability to multitask in a fast and changing environment, and excellent time management skills
  • Ability to prioritize tasks to meet deadlines and manage multiple projects in a high-volume environment
  • Solid communication skills, including a demonstrated ability to communicate effectively with staff and ability to present data in a clear and concise manner
  • An understanding of, and commitment to, PEN America’s mission

To Apply:

Please submit a cover letter directly addressing specific requirements for the position as outlined above, a resume, an unedited writing sample, and the contact information for three references. Please submit the entire application to [email protected]. One PDF is preferred. Please use “Director of Foundation Relations and Grants” with your name as the subject of your email (for example, “Director of Foundation Relations and Grants – Jane Doe”). Only complete applications will be reviewed, and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

PEN America is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices, and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please.  

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.