Awards Manager

We're looking for an Awards Manager to join our fast-paced, collaborative team.

Lever for Change leverages investments in solutions to the world’s biggest problems — from racial and gender equity to climate change. By matching donors with problem solvers — through customized challenges and tailored funding opportunities — Lever for Change accelerates social change. Outstanding teams from these challenges form the Bold Solutions Network, which focuses on elevating organizations and catalyzing further funding.

Founded as a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2019, Lever for Change has influenced more than $900 million in awards and provided support to more than 140 organizations to date. To learn more, visit

The Awards Manager will serve as the client lead and primary relationship manager for ultra-high net worth donor partners who sponsor customized competitions. In accordance with client specifications, the Awards Manager has responsibility to meet high standards of quality and service in sourcing philanthropic projects ready to absorb a large amount of philanthropic capital ($10 million+).

This is an exciting opportunity for a creative, hard-working professional to work in a fast-paced and dynamic environment and to directly support the growth of a philanthropic start-up.

Job Description

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  • Manage complex competition processes and oversee competition team to execute best in class client services on tight timelines
  • Serve as the main point of contact for clients sponsoring customized competitions throughout their engagement with Lever for Change
    • Liaise with internal and external experts to advise on competition parameters and design (application, scoring rubrics, scoring processes)
    • Monitor competition service providers to assure that the competition website and all competition parameters align with the donor partner interests
    • Oversee the process to identify appropriate judges for competition
    • Oversee outreach and engagement to assure quality applications
    • Oversee due diligence processes, including managing technical assistance providers and vendors
    • Create and oversee preparation of materials for client review to support the selection of finalists and a final awardee
    • Prepare clear and compelling presentation materials that support donor selection processes and choices
    • Support the donor selection of highly effective social change organizations
  • Help broaden our service model by assisting clients on special projects, possibly including helping to identify recipients of charitable gifts through an open call competition
  • Develop, draft, and prepare program-related memos, reports, materials, and presentations under tight deadlines
  • Lead the development of landscape analyses for donor sponsors, as required
  • Provide guidance to applicants during the competition process and serve as liaison between donor sponsors and applicants
  • Share insights on top applicants from LFC competitions with donor networks and funders
  • Manage and mentor Awards Associates and supervise other staff, as assigned
  • Collaborate with internal teams to:
    • provide value-add to competition applicants
    • work with donor clients to refine their philanthropic interests and translate them into customized design elements and execute competitions accordingly
    • identify potential donors interested in supporting organizations in the Lever for Change Bold Solutions Network
    • coordinate on competition announcements and other public facing milestones related to competition management

Other Duties and Responsibilities

  • Keep abreast of current events, developments, and issues in the field of philanthropy in order to maintain a balanced and objective perspective to support grantees and top performing applicants
  • Write extensively for both internal and external purposes
  • Present on panels and attend conferences
  • Participate in learning and evaluation processes to improve strategic direction of organization
  • Perform other duties as assigned


  • A master’s degree or its equivalent and/or direct experience applying expertise to contemporary social problems
  • Minimum of five years of program experience with a grantmaking or impact investing institution
  • Extensive experience in managing competitions with large award prizes
  • Demonstrated ability to work with high net worth clients in a consultative fashion (i.e., excellent listener, able to anticipate and assess client needs and craft creative responses, and to be proactive in bringing advice and solutions)
  • Energized by interaction with clients
  • Outstanding critical thinking, analytical and investigative skills
  • Must have broad intellectual capacity, curiosity, and passion for an eclectic range of issues and subjects across a broad array of subject matter areas
  • Able to manage multiple tasks and projects under tight deadlines
  • Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills; must be able to organize, synthesize, and clearly convey complex problems/issues in written and oral format for both expert and non-expert audiences
  • Self-confident, diplomatic, and collegial with high professional standards
  • Able to work effectively within a matrixed management framework
  • Must be proficient in Microsoft applications. Experience with Salesforce, Airtable, MediaWiki and/or Smartsheet is preferred
  • Must be willing and able to travel occasionally
  • Must use discretion, maintain confidentiality, display cultural sensitivity and work diplomatically with diverse constituencies

This position is based in Chicago, Illinois. 


Help Accelerate Positive Change in the World

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