What Is a Development Director?

The role of a development director is to supervise the fundraising efforts of a nonprofit organization. A development director conducts revenue streams such as grants, donations and special events to a nonprofit. These directors work closely with treasurers, chief financial officers and grant managers to ensure financial stability. The future of an organization often relies on a development director’s ability to plan and implement strategies to raise vital funds for continued operation. This is done by overseeing all the different kinds of fundraising and making sure that those efforts are made in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Responsibilities of Development Directors

A development director is responsible for devising and executing specific business strategies with the collaboration of other executives. The board of an organization has input on the definition of what the director’s responsibilities are. A development director uses suggestions and direction from the board to create these strategies and implement them. A development director may also work closely with a development or fundraising committee that assists him or her with personal donations and campaign planning.

A development director’s job requires both strategic thinking and communication skills. Individuals in these positions must convince donors to give money and/or time to the organization as well as build relationships with the media, board members and the general public. They may also work on or with an organization’s communication and public relations departments on media strategies, including websites, newsletters and donor information databases.

The daily tasks of a development director may include researching potential donors, writing grants and establishing a strong structure for effective fundraising.

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Job Outlook for Development Directors

As an organization grows, the role of a development director becomes even more important. A fundraising coordinator in a small organization may eventually take on the title of development director when the group requires more administrative direction. Some development directors choose to work on a consulting and contracted basis, while others take full-time positions. The incentive to working as a consultant is flexibility and a constant stream of new challenges. Building up a diverse client and contact list can prove very important to an individual working in the field of development.

Development Director Salary

What a development director earns generally depends on the size of the organization they work for and what kind of employment they have. The average salary for a development director for a nonprofit is around $63,000 a year, according to PayScale. However, many development directors also earn incentives, bonuses, and profit sharing in addition to their annual salary. Some organizations choose to offer their development directors pay based on their fundraising success. Paying commission can be an effective incentive, but may also lead to a focus on quantity of funds instead of quality of relationships.

Education Required

Individuals pursuing a career as a development director generally have at least a bachelor’s degree in fields like organizational leadership, communication, nonprofit management or business administration. Most organizations look for a combination of education and work-related experience to fit these positions. Whereas entry- and mid-level positions such a fundraising coordinator or fundraising manager may require around one to five years of experience, a development director’s position would require a master’s degree and 10 to 15 years of experience.