Development: It’s Kind of a Big Thing

Mentally Hilarious

Thanks, You read my mind.

So I’m sitting here, making boxed macaroni and cheese for breakfast (mmm brain food), pondering today’s topic. Sure, this blog is about development. But, as I mentioned to my husband, Art−who also happens to be my boss−at the breakfast table, development is kind of a big thing. In addition to the various facets of the job itself, there are certain life traits and work habits that are the purview of most, if not all, good fundraisers, and developing these skills to the best of our abilities seems par for the course. Knowing the technical ins and outs of various development-related tasks and systems is obviously necessary, but the idea that time management, organization, and initiative, and other factors are required is not lost on me.

For those of you who have been in the field a long time, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Especially those of you in small shops. I had to smile the other day at the job openings that I was posting on my Twitter account. Let’s see now, as Development Director of a 1.5-person shop, I would love to hire a Grant Writer, a Special Events Coordinator, a Prospect Researcher, a Major Gifts Manager, an Annual Fund Director, a Planned Giving Coordinator, a Senior Development Associate. But it’s a chicken and egg situation−in order to hire additional development staff, my department would have to raise much more in resources, or my organization would have to realize dramatically more revenue, for that to happen. And even if both of those things were true, hiring these positions may not be our first priority.

Development staff is almost always a good investment, but many organizations are timid about hiring their first development staff person. Relatedly, I have not yet met a development professional that was trained in the industry before entering their first development position, though I know they must be out there. Most of the “fundraisers” I know (and I use that term knowing full well that it is just the tip of the iceberg) came to the field from a passion to help an organization do great work.

UnderDevelopedBy this time, many of you may be familiar with the recent report UnderDeveloped,” released jointly by CompassPoint and the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. The basic premise of the report is that no one is happy, from board members and Chief Executives to the development departments themselves. But there are opportunities to make things better for both sides. The report chronicles some paths to improvement, and I’ll be watching for more commentary on the topic as time goes on. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, download the report and look it over. I feel it is a long overdue study on a situation that many of us, even the most satisfied in our positions, notice among our peers.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the report: How do you feel satisfaction levels are at your own organization? What can nonprofits do to improve conditions for development professionals?


About agirlnamedkylie

I coordinate development for an historic movie theatre that is now a super duper arts machine. I live with my husband and our three cats in the house that he grew up in. When I'm not writing or working, I like to watch classic, foreign and independent movies, knit, cook, make lists, and be generally happy most of the time.

Posted on February 23, 2013, in Industry Research, Resources, Whitepapers and Downloads, Workplace Issues and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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