FundRaiser Blog

The FundRaiser Software Blog is an excellent resource for nonprofit organizations looking to learn more about fundraising, donor management, membership management, and much more.

When Should a Non-Profit Organization Hire its First Development Director? Part 1

When Should a Non-Profit Organization  Hire its First Development Director? Part 1


The short answer is sooner rather than later! If a non-profit organization is beginning to ask whether it needs a professional development director, it probably should have hired one months, even years ago.

The biggest mistake non-profits make in hiring their first development director is waiting until the board, executive director, and other key personnel have arrived at a consensus that one is needed NOW. An organization that waits until it is necessary to hire a development director has waited too long.

When I was hired as the first development director of the Cleveland Orchestra way back in 1972, it had already been in existence for 55 years and was recognized as one of the world’s great orchestras. It was also facing a $1 million deficit. I was introduced to the board as, “… a necessary evil …” brought on by that staggering deficit. The orchestra had waited until it was necessary to hire me. It should have hired its first development director years earlier when a fund-raising development professional could have worked with the board to help prevent, or to greatly reduce, that deficit.

So then, what are the universal signals—the indicators—that tell an organization it’s time to hire a professional development director? Well, the sad news is that there aren’t any. Each organization will have its own set of signals based on its culture, mission, budget, size, potential for growth, and a host of other factors. To know when to hire your first development director requires that you know your organization.

You Can’t Add, Subtract, Multiply or Divide Your Way to When to Hire a Development Director

Looking at the numbers is useful, but numbers alone will not tell an organization when to hire its first development director. It would be wonderful if a formula could be constructed out of data such as operating budget, annual deficit, personnel costs, etc., that would indicate when the balance tips toward hiring a development director.

But any non-profit organization has an enormous number of variables it must consider as it looks at fund-raising and whether it is ready for an on-staff professional to guide its efforts.

They start with the question of just how connected are the board and the process of giving and getting money.

  • Are there board members who recruit volunteer campaign leaders and solicitors?
  • When given the plans and tools, does the board carry out fund-raising campaigns in a satisfactory and successful manner?
  • Are there people on the board capable of making substantial gifts?
  • Are there people on the board willing to ask for substantial gifts?
  • Is there someone on the board capable of and willing to head a fund-raising committee?
  • Does the board understand what a development director is?

The board of directors is just the start. There are a myriad of other questions that contribute to the decision of whether or not to hire that first development director. They include:

  • What is the community’s perception of the value of the organization’s mission?
  • What is the organization’s fund-raising track record?
  • How strong is the community’s philanthropic spirit?
  • What other organizations are raising money for missions similar to the organization’s?
  • Does the organization need to institute new and larger fund-raising campaigns?
  • Is the organization thinking about changing the way it raises money—beginning telefunding or Internet fund-raising for example?
  • Are there changes in the way the organization operates that will drive expenses substantially higher?

Before an organization hires its first development director, it needs to know if there is fertile ground for that development director to plow, viable seeds to plant, and the possibility of a harvest bountiful enough to meet needs.

Knowing the answers to these and other questions helps to set the stage. Those answers not only let you see the challenges; they shine the light of knowledge on them as they pertain to the specific organization. Always, the question comes back to the particular organization, its needs, and the community it serves.

Want to take a closer look at how FundRaiser can help you answer these vital development questions? 

Give us a call at 800-880-3454 or register for an online tour

When Should a Non-Profit Organization Hire its Fi...
Spring Brings New Growth- Facebook flash sales and...

Related Posts

Wait a minute, while we are rendering the calendar
publicity materials letter new donors ticketsales donor attrition merge notes donor recognition Reporting to IRS office technical support Network for Good product news donation history mailing End of Year Letters increasing giving amounts segmenting donors tech tip Cloud mode code advanced tab holiday grants anonymous donors holiday letters memorial giving user interface government grants community arts nonprofits support lapsed donor major gift prospects spreadsheets donor profile relationship tracking in honor of donations monthly giving SYBUNTS donor preferences giving levels communications FundRaiser Basic mission driven on site training user spotlights small donations donor loyalty look and feel letter templates holiday giving accounting software direct mail nonprofit fundraising donor Facebook personalizing letters how to handle auction gifts donor attrition rate charity golf tournaments arts appeal letters thank you letters LYBUNTS motivation code capital campaign Personalizing Snow Birds training tip volunteering gift acceptance policy announcements National Change of Address new nonprofit large donations case study online donations custom page correspondance donor targeting foundations importing csv Thank You donor slip training social media operating systems transparency planning overview customer service phoning donors online donations fundraising salutation Resiliency membership programs FundRaiser Spark pictures development director texting donors membersip benefits grassroots campaign animal rescue annual campaign premiums how-to videos tribute gifts #GivingTuesday donor contact information campaign management upgrade word processor Congratulations giving history role of nonprofits correspondence reports security pledges major donors Facebook campaign data analysis alumni spare fields raffle backing up data membership benefits Task List gift notes field operational costs FundRaiser Hosted data conversion community supported gardens In-Kind gifts welcome packet adding personal notes to letters event management new leadership repeat donors prospects community broadcasting GivingTuesday New Year volunteers entering auction gifts new version brick campaign PayPal change of address updating the Ask building donor relationships annual maintenance plan Company culture planned giving moves management understanding giving trends follow up solicitors Volunteer module auction happiness endowment campaign board members GoFundMe project targeted mailings Crowdfunding Campaign tax summary letters updates fundraising letters Groupings recurring gifts Alternative Addresses vacation new features general disaster relief Codes data entry Tickles legacy giving donor retention rate appeal campaign Donor Portal Reminders Importing Data merge fields ticket sales add ons budget gift entry banquet NCOA processing password protection corporate sponsors ROI motivation Constant Contact upgrading donors donor source Excel features Thanksgiving donor advised funds customer portal flash sales

Connect With Us

  800-880-3454 ext 3
  Email Us
  Request More Information
      8:30AM-5:30PM CST

Customer Portal Login Form

User Name:

If you are not sure about your Customer User Name, please call 800-543-4131 and we will be able to help you.

Or you have lost your password, Request Password