Career Development

Development Director Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Development directors are responsible for overseeing the fundraising efforts of non-profit organizations. They typically work for charitable organizations, like museums, community groups, or religious organizations.

Development directors are responsible for overseeing the fundraising efforts of non-profit organizations. They typically work for charitable organizations, like museums, community groups, or religious organizations.

Development directors manage all aspects of an organization’s fundraising efforts. They organize fundraising events, meet with donors, and set up volunteer programs. They also oversee fundraising campaigns and coordinate communications with donors.

Development directors must have excellent communication skills. They must be able to talk to donors and prospective donors about the organization’s goals and plans. Development directors also need to be creative and able to develop innovative fundraising ideas.

Development Director Job Duties

The development director is responsible for:

  • Building relationships with potential donors and convincing them to give money to the organization
  • Identifying prospects for donations, then contacting them about their interest in giving
  • Creating a plan to meet the organization’s fundraising goals
  • Organizing fundraising events such as galas, auctions, and golf tournaments
  • Researching organizations that might be interested in donating money or services
  • Recruiting and training new volunteers
  • Conducting interviews and reference checks
  • Scheduling orientations, meetings, and training sessions

This job requires a lot of personal contact with donors and volunteers. A successful development director must be good at building relationships and managing people’s expectations. 

Development Director Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for development directors is $82,254. Those earning higher wages tend to work for private not-for-profit organizations, and the highest earners make over $150,000 per year.

Demand for development directors is projected to grow faster than average over the next decade. As funding sources become more limited and competition increases, organizations will look to their development staff to secure donations from individuals and corporations. Development staff will play a key role in directing fundraising efforts as well as maintaining current donors and finding new ones.

Development Director Job Requirements

The requirements for development directors are as follows:

Education: Most employers prefer candidates with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, communications, or marketing.

Experience: The most important aspect of this job is previous fundraising experience. Candidates should be able to demonstrate success in raising money for charitable organizations and nonprofit groups.

Training: Employers usually provide on-the-job training for the first few months of employment. Candidates often attend training sessions on topics such as fundraising techniques and grant writing. These programs typically last from one to several weeks.

Development Director Skills

A development director must possess the following skills:

Excellent communication skills: Development directors must be able to communicate well with donors, volunteers, and other members of the organization.

Good organizational skills: The development director must be able to organize fundraising events and solicit donations in a timely manner.

Ability to multitask: The development director must be able to handle many different tasks at once, including writing grant proposals, contacting donors, updating donor databases, organizing fundraising events, creating marketing materials, answering phones, and more.

Leadership skills: A development director must have leadership skills that will help him or her motivate staff members and encourage them to work hard.

Flexibility: Development directors may be required to work long hours on short notice, so they must be flexible enough to accommodate these changes.

Marketing skills: Development directors must know how to promote a charity’s mission through marketing efforts such as writing press releases, planning fundraising events, and arranging public relations opportunities.

Development Director Work Environment

Development directors work in offices, often as part of a larger organization such as a school or hospital. Their working hours depend on the nature of the company and the project they are working on. They typically work between 8 and 10 hours per day.

Development directors must be able to manage their time well to create a schedule that will allow them to meet deadlines, attend meetings, make phone calls, write reports, and complete other tasks. It’s also important for development directors to be able to handle stress well, because they deal with internal and external issues all the time.

Development Director Career Advancement

To improve your chances of advancement within the company, it would be wise to take on additional responsibilities so you can show your leadership capabilities. For example, you could lead the company in developing a new fund or branch out to start your own. You can even take on additional public relations roles to show you have the ability to handle the public eye.

After several years in this position, you may be ready to move on to the position of Executive Director. As the head of the organization, you’ll be responsible for making sure that the organization operates in accordance with its mission statement. You’ll also make sure that the fundraising efforts are successful, and you’ll work to ensure that the organization has the resources it needs to grow.

Development Director Trends

Here are three trends influencing how development directors work. Development directors will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Crowdfunding Popularity

As crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon continue to grow in popularity, more and more people are taking advantage of these sites to raise money for their projects.

With this trend on the rise, development directors will need to learn how to use these platforms as a marketing tool and create successful campaigns that will attract new donors.

Increased Importance of Planning Skills

As technology has advanced, development projects have become increasingly complex and have a wider range of stakeholders. As a result, development directors will need to strengthen their planning skills in order to lead successful projects from start to finish.

Planning involves a great deal of careful analysis before moving forward with a project—including market research, industry trends, competitor analysis, stakeholder interviews, and more.

Increasing Value of Metrics

Data-driven decision-making is becoming increasingly important for development directors who are responsible for choosing the best methods to increase their organization’s effectiveness.

This trend has already begun to impact organizations in this field, with some development directors relying more heavily on data than on instinct when it comes to deciding which programs will be most effective.

How to Become a Development Director

1. Planning Your Career Path

As a development director, you’ll be responsible for helping an organization raise money. While this role does require you to sell your cause, it also requires you to develop meaningful relationships with potential donors. This is important because the success of any fundraising campaign depends on establishing trust between you and your donors.

As a nonprofit worker, it is also important to have a solid understanding of fundraising strategies and donor management. This can be gained through work experience at a local charity or volunteering at a non-profit organization. Some students may find that taking a class on fundraising is helpful as well; by learning about different methods of raising money, you can identify which ones would be most effective for your target audience.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for development directors highlight their ability to raise funds, implement fundraising campaigns, and develop donor relations. If you have any experience in these areas, be sure to describe them. 

In addition to listing your skills, be sure to include a detailed description of any previous successes that you may have had. It’s also important that you show your leadership abilities by describing past positions where you were able to influence the direction of a team and motivate others to work together.

3. Applying for Jobs

Building a strong network is a great way to find the right job as a development director. Many development directors work in non-profit organizations, so you may be looking for opportunities in areas like social services, education, and healthcare. If you choose a cause that you are passionate about, it will be easier to build a stronger network.

Research the non-profits that you are interested in, and tailor your application ensuring you detail why you are a good fit for the organization. Having aligned values, as well as relevant experience will carry weight. In your resume, ensure that you include measurable results and achievements from past work experience.

4. Ace the Interview

If you’re interviewing for a development director job, you’ll likely be asked about your experience and how it relates to the position. Also, hiring managers may want to know how you handle stakeholders and how you work with them to complete tasks.

A good way to prepare is to review the organization’s website and other promotional materials, as well as its most recent annual report. This will help you tailor your responses to fit the specific job at hand, rather than just talking about general concepts that are applicable to all nonprofits. If possible, read those of similar organizations as well.

Finally, have a strong understanding of your own skills and experience so that you can emphasize how you got an organization’s donors more involved in the fundraising process, how you expanded its donor base, or other areas where you have made an impact. You can demonstrate these abilities by sharing specific examples from past jobs or volunteer roles—with the caveat that they are relevant to the position at hand.


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