Hiring the Right Development Professional

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With few exceptions, no hire is more important to a nonprofit organization than the individuals tasked with keeping the money flowing: the development team. Yet, the average length of employment for a development professional is 277 days. A study from CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Hass, Jr. Fund found that 25% of respondents with development directors on staff had fired their most recent development director. Half of chief development officers plan to quit within 2 years.

So what goes wrong?

Quite often, it is a lack of understanding by the Executive Director as to differing fundraising skill sets and how a development professional gets the organization to goal.

Development professionals, like physicians, are either generalists or specialists. Generalists have an overall understanding of all aspects of fundraising while a specialist has a laser-like focus on particular revenue streams. Understanding the difference is important—in experience, focus, pay—and results.

Those who fill Director of Major Gifts, Director of Corporate & Foundations (Institutional Giving), Director of Special Events, and Director of Membership roles are considered Development Specialists. Development Generalists are those who fill Chief Development Officer, Director of Development, Development Officer, and Grants Writer roles.

If you hire a Generalist when you need a Specialist, and vice versa, you are setting the candidate and your organization up for failure.

Hiring the Right Fundraiser

For salary information based on organizational budget, download PNP’s 2018 Nonprofit Salaries and Staffing Trends Report. Want to discuss further? Drop us a line or call.

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