Strategic Communications Manager
About the Organization
GAR Foundation is a private foundation based in Akron, Ohio, with roughly $200 million in endowment assets. Established in 1967, our mission is to help Akron become smarter, stronger, and more vibrant. Each year, we make strategic grants of approximately $7 million across our focus areas: Education; Economic, Workforce, and Community Development; Arts and Culture; and Basic Needs. We support “systems work”—identifying failures or missed opportunities in existing systems (i.e., education, workforce development, etc.), connecting partners, and leveraging other resources to drive better outcomes and deeper impact. Our vision is an Akron where every child gets a great start in life and benefits from a well-rounded education; where companies and opportunities grow in a talent-rich environment; where pathways to prosperity are equitable, accessible, and easily navigated by everyone; where all residents and businesses feel connected to Greater Akron, to their neighbors and fellow citizens and are energized by its creative assets, its abundant opportunities, and its commitment to shared prosperity.
GAR Foundation is seeking a creative and experienced communicator who can help us build awareness of and broad support for our work to advance systemic solutions that make Greater Akron a better place for all. The ideal candidate is a fast learner who can shape clear and compelling messages from often complicated information and drive engagement and understanding. The communicator we seek will be steeped in our grantmaking work so they can create content that influences civic leaders, decision-makers, and other funders to join us in our work. They will also help us protect and build the Foundation’s reputation as a thought leader and strategic grantmaker, and advance the general understanding of challenges and successes within Greater Akron’s nonprofit sector.
Specifics of the Role
The what: This is a salaried, full-time (40 hours a week) position. The role’s most essential function is the creation of thoughtful written and visual content that conveys GAR Foundation’s systems change grantmaking work. The ideal candidate will have excellent skills in understanding, distilling, and communicating complex topics as written and visual content. Messaging must be tailored to a variety of audiences, such as the nonprofit community in Greater Akron, legislators, national funders, our board, the media, and the general public.
A secondary function is to assist Foundation staff in creating thoughtful convenings and meaningful experiences for stakeholders. The Foundation regularly brings together grantees and others for shared learning and exploration. Excellent convenings that provide value to participants and advance strategic work do not happen by accident. Instead, they result from careful planning, preparation, and foresight. The Strategic Communications Manager will support meeting design, outreach strategies, and the development of engaging content to achieve meeting objectives. The Strategic Communications Manager will assist in all facets of this work to create the conditions for top-quality convenings.
The who: The Strategic Communications Manager will possess:
- Exceptional ability to distill nuanced topics into simple, clear messages • Superior written communication skills and demonstrated expertise in writing for broad and narrow audiences
- The ability to generate engaging, visually appealing content (PowerPoint presentations, infographics,video content, etc.)
- The ability to work independently, drawing on their own expertise but remaining open to feedback
- Strong project management skills, including initiative, planning and implementing work, and meeting deadlines
- Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to create productive and healthy relationships • A high degree of self-awareness relative to their strengths and opportunities for growth • A growth mindset and flexibility in adapting to dynamic work
- A working knowledge of current desktop and online publishing software and content creation platforms, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Canva (or Adobe Creative Cloud), Constant Contact (or similar e-blast platforms), WordPress, and Google Analytics.
Additionally, we are seeking someone with the following education and experience:
- A Master’s or Bachelor’s degree, preferably in a relevant field such as Communications, Journalism, Public Relations, Political Science, or Organizational Development
- At least 5 to 7 years of experience in a professional communications, journalism, or public policy role
- Experience working collaboratively with teams, preferably including partners internal and external to the organization
- Experience managing vendors, consultants, or contractors
- Experience working in a communications agency, philanthropic organization, or nonprofit is strongly preferred
The how: The Strategic Communications Manager will implement and guide all strategic communications work for the Foundation. They must be an organized self-starter who can work independently, prioritizing work and driving projects from ideation to completion. The manager can rely on an external communications firm and various vendors to support the work. They must be adept in managing relationships with contractors to accomplish communications objectives and meet deadlines successfully.
Work conducted in-house by the Strategic Communications Manager would be inclusive of but not limited to:
- Development and stewarding of a communications strategy in conjunction with Foundation staff
- Development of content that translates systems grantmaking into easily digestible messages
- Shaping of convenings, in conjunction with Foundation staff
- Management of the Foundation website, currently in redevelopment
- Development of slide decks and other supportive communications for meetings and convenings
- Preparation of press releases
Work conducted by an external firm under the supervision of the Strategic Communications Manager may include:
- Social media posts
- Videography and special photography projects
- Preparation of newsletter
- Media relations to achieve optimal story placement
The why: The overall strategic scope of the role is to:
- Build awareness of and broad support for our grantmaking objectives to influence other potential funders and decision-makers to join us in the work;
- Protect and build the Foundation’s reputation as a thought leader and strategic grantmaker in Greater Akron; and
- Advance the general understanding of challenges and successes within Greater Akron’s nonprofit sector.
The where: GAR Foundation offers a hybrid work environment. The Strategic Communications Manager is expected to be present with the GAR team three days a week in our office in downtown Akron and can work the other two days remotely. This is consistent for all Staff.
Compensation and Benefits
GAR Foundation is a fast-paced, flexible, and fun place to work. Our small staff is collaborative and supportive of one another, and we come to work each day energized to advance the Foundation’s mission to make Akron smarter, stronger, and more vibrant. Our team members value learning and growth, and we support their development through a generous allowance for professional development experiences. We are looking to work with someone who shares our five core values:
- Curiosity – We continuously ask questions and learn about community issues and people’s experiences.
- Equity – We deal fairly and equitably with all parties, meeting people where they are.
- Humility – We are aware of our place and role (both the positives and negatives of it).
- Collaboration – We work jointly with partners.
- Innovation – We are original and creative in out
We also offer competitive compensation and benefits, including:
- Compensation ranging from $70,000 – $80,000, commensurate with experience
- Health, dental, and vision coverage for employee and eligible family members
- Participation in GAR’s employer-funded Health Savings Account program
- 10 days of Paid Time Off (PTO) in the first two years, with increased PTO in the third year
- 9 paid holidays per year
- Eligibility for GAR Foundation’s 401k retirement savings program
- Participation in GAR Foundation’s matching gift program whereby GAR will match your charitable contributions to eligible organizations
Position reports to: The Senior Vice President, with secondary direction from the President
GAR Foundation is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and affirmative action employer. We do not discriminate based on race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, veteran status, disability status, or any other applicable characteristics protected by law. We embrace and celebrate diversity and strive to create genuine belonging for all.
Want to learn more about joining Philanthropy Ohio or getting the most out of your membership? Contact Mary Dunbar.