Organization: Spark Ventures

Location: Chicago, IL

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About Spark Ventures:

Spark Ventures is a leader in innovative international development with their business driven philanthropy model. By investing and building businesses globally, Spark Ventures generates a financial return that funds local organizations. With an impact investing approach, Spark Ventures leverages charitable contributions to fund sustainable food and agriculture, private sector investments in emerging market social enterprises. The returns from these investments are funneled into endowments managed by local, non-governmental organization (NGO) partners providing high-impact programming in education, health and nutrition.

Spark Ventures, located in Chicago, invests financial and human capital to launch businesses in developing countries:

In Zambia, Spark Ventures has invested and built a poultry farm, which has cultivated a sustaining revenue stream for programming. Spark Ventures partners with Hope Ministries, which provides high-impact nutrition, education and healthcare programming to hundreds of vulnerable children in Ndola, Zambia. The Spark-Hope partnership was launched in 2007 with an initial focus on building capacity of Hope’s social impact programs through traditional direct funding. Spark’s support grew Hope Community School from a rented facility serving 60 children to their own 7- classroom schoolhouse with 350 students and 25 individuals from the community working as teachers, social workers and office staff. With a goal of local sustainability for these programs, Spark launched and is currently scaling a commercial poultry farm in Zambia that raises over 100,000 chickens annually with profits funding a growing percentage of Hope’s operations.

In Nicaragua, Spark Ventures has made an impact investment in a honeybee and mixed crop farm of 175 acres. With a robust understanding of the agricultural ecosystem, Spark has launched honeybees and will follow with pilot crops in chili and cacao by the end of 2015. Both local consumption and exporting are in the plans. At full scale, the farm will provide numerous permanent staff positions and hundreds of seasonal jobs. The return on this investment will fund critical programs benefiting children of Nicaragua through Spark’s partner, Associacion Las Tias.

The business driven philanthropy model ensures that each dollar invested results in exponential returns that are reinvested locally to continuously fund high impact social programs for years after the initial contribution. By tying long-term social and economic returns to charitable giving, Spark Ventures radically alters the way individuals and institutions think about their philanthropic capital.

Spark’s vision is a portfolio of profitable food/agriculture investments that are sustaining high impact social program partners around the world.

For more information on Spark Ventures please visit:

The Opportunity:

The Vice President of Development (VP, Development) is the leader for all fundraising strategies and initiatives for Spark Ventures. The VP, Development will be the initial member of the organization’s development department. S/he will partner closely with the senior leadership team and Board of Directors to create and spearhead a robust fundraising strategy, ensuring strong alignment with the strategic vision. S/he will lay out the fundraising pyramid, build the database and execute efficiently on the plan to grow revenue to $2M+.

Reporting to the CEO, the VP, Development will be a business-minded, entrepreneurial and creative fundraising professional leading Spark Ventures’ resource mobilization effort. The VP, Development will identify, solicit and cultivate high net worth donors and corporate/foundation prospects to build a strong donor pipeline and achieve the organization’s strategic objectives.

The VP, Development will enhance Spark Ventures’ overall approach to advancement – one that creates a true culture of philanthropy throughout the organization, improves and develops sustained success in contributed revenue and ultimately fulfills Spark Ventures’ mission and achieves it vision.

The VP, Development will be responsible for raising funds from a range of sources, including institutional and private donors.

Key metrics for success include:

  • A comprehensive business plan is developed positioning Spark Ventures for long-term, sustainable success through strong and growing philanthropic support;
  • Developing and connecting long-term relationships with new major donors to Spark Ventures’ mission and model;
  • Robust annual and capital fundraising that meets and exceeds the needs of Spark Ventures;
  • Identifying and securing additional Board Members with significant giving capacity; and
  • Donor communications and stewardship strategy are clearly articulated and effectively reflect the story and importance of social investment and the mission of Spark Ventures.

Candidate Profile:

The Vice President of Development (VP, Development) will be a bold thinker as well as a strategic, yet ‘hands-on’ executor, who will help Spark’s establish its development efforts. As a member of Spark Ventures’ Leadership Team, s/he will bring a genuine passion for the organization’s mission coupled with deep experience driving fundraising success.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal competencies and characteristics:

An Expert in Development: The VP, Development will be an experienced leader in the field of development with a measurable track record of success. S/he will have demonstrated expertise with a wide range of fundraising channels with particular focus on major donors. With a creative and entrepreneurial mindset, the VP, Development will take leadership in identifying a fundraising pyramid, developing a process to achieve success and strategically executing on the plan. S/he will flourish in a mission driven yet business-focused environment and be energized by the prospect of building a development department from the ground up and implementing processes and best practices. S/he will have a strong data and analysis orientation and a proven ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives. Hand-in- hand with a process orientation, the VP, Development will also adopt an entrepreneurial approach to expanding and deepening new and existing donor  support. S/he will provide strategy for fundraising campaigns, events and donor trips.

A Relationship Builder and Communicator: The VP, Development will develop and maintain a thorough understanding of Spark Ventures’ business strategy, footprint and unique selling points. The VP, Development will be skilled at building and sustaining excellent relationships at multiple levels. S/he will be a confident and articulate communicator with the ability to work fluidly across all levels. The VP, Development will have a business-development approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from stakeholders. S/he will be a charismatic, high- energy leader who can talk with anyone and successfully convey Spark Ventures’ objectives. Collaborating closely with the CEO, the VP, Development will implement a comprehensive and multifaceted donor-communication and stewardship strategy ensuring donor satisfaction. S/he will have a strong working relationship with the Board and will be a proactive communicator at all times.

An Ambassador for Spark Ventures: The VP, Development will work tirelessly as an ‘Ambassador’ for Spark Ventures’ mission and vision. S/he will publicly represent the organization’s mission and values. S/he will have highly developed interpersonal skills and possess the ability to quickly establish genuine and productive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders. As an external voice of the organization, s/he will articulate and broaden the vision of Spark Ventures to its current supporting community and future stakeholders. The VP, Development must be a confident public speaker representing Spark Ventures locally and globally in civic and philanthropic endeavors.

A Passion for the Mission: The VP, Development will have a passion for international philanthropy, impact investing and Spark Ventures’ mission. S/he will work to continually innovate, lifting Spark Ventures’ brand and extending Spark’s reach. A desire to be part of the continuing evolution and growth of Spark Ventures’ mission and model is imperative. S/he will embrace Spark Ventures’ entrepreneurial culture, and will have the character and dexterity to build this development program. A charismatic and motivational individual, the VP, Development will thrive in a business- minded and innovative environment. The VP, Development will be an empathic leader, treating others with respect. S/he will be an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

A Bachelor’s degree is required, an advanced degree preferred.


Koya Leadership Partners has been exclusively retained for this search. This search is being led by Marissa Martin.

To express your interest in this role, please submit your resume using Koya’s online link: or email Marissa directly at

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with nonprofits and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit