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Simply put, a nonprofit development director is responsible for the fundraising efforts of an organization. It's a crucial role that can help nonprofits stay afloat. If you're thinking of entering this important area of nonprofit management, you'll need strong interpersonal skills and a visionary spirit.
What They Do
A big part of the development director's job is bringing in money -- but that's really only part of the equation. The development director needs to understand the needs of the nonprofit and the population it serves. That includes working closely with the management team to determine how much money is needed and for what purpose. The development director may be responsible for hiring employees who can write grants, organize events and manage client and donor communications. With a visionary spirit, development directors will come up with unique and effective fundraising plans that might include auctions and events as well as ongoing capital fundraising campaigns.
Traits for Success
With the word "director" in the job title, it should be clear that the development director needs to be a strong leader. She'll also need to be a self-starter who will take initiative even when no one is overseeing her work. A successful development director will have strong relationship and "influencing" skills that can convince others to accept her plans and ideas. She'll also need to be excellent at communicating with the public, donors, staff members and the rest of the management team. And of course, a knack for managing funds and budgeting is essential.
Education and Advancement
Since this is an executive position within the nonprofit organization, development directors typically are required to have at least a bachelor's degree. Additionally, having a master's degree in nonprofit management, public relations, fundraising, or business administration is often preferred. In large organizations, it may be a requirement. As a member of the executive team, a development director is already in a relatively advanced position -- though he may further advance his career by moving up to the executive director position within the organization, or by moving onto another development position at another organization.
Jobs at nonprofits typically pay less than jobs at similar for-profit organizations. Still, the development director is an executive, and she'll tend to earn a salary that is much higher than average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fundraising managers in "religious, grantmaking, civic, professional and similar organizations" made a median wage of $93,580 as of May 2012. Fundraising managers in educational services made a median wage of $87,730 during that same time, and health care and social services fundraising managers made a median wage of $78,590.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.
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