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Three Important Lessons for a Nonprofit Development Director

Monday, August 29th, 2016

A non-profit’s development director has a tough job. A director has an influential leadership role that can change the entire course of a nonprofit. After working with many nonprofits and being in the industry for decades ourselves, Charity Fundraising has seen three important lessons from the best of the best of development directors. We have listed out the three for you!

Lesson 1: Get Out Of The Office

Let’s face it, there is always going to be a “to-do” list at the office: pushing papers, replying to emails, planning events, holding internal meetings, etc. However, a development director’s leadership must be inside and outside of the office. Too many nonprofits focus entirely internally and forget about their biggest asset – their donors! A development director’s leadership in visiting prospective and existing donors is paramount to the influence of the partner-donor relationship. Most of the biggest wins come from face to face meetings with donors (and fundraising events that are attended by these loyal and invested donors!).Whether it may be auction donation ideas or items or wisdom and advice, donors bring can bring more to the table than showing up to the events. Staying connected with donors helps a director also see how and what auction items a fundraising event should hold for the changing interests of their donor-base.

Lesson 2: Stay Updated And Engaged With The News 

The cause of a nonprofit organization is one of great care and heart. To change this world for the better takes sensitivity and care, which leads to conviction and perseverance. Being aware of what is going on (especially in your corner of the world) shows an immense amount of care. And not only that, some of your donor relationships – businesspeople and civic leaders – will be the individual making the news! A development director can’t be only focused on his or her own business throughout interacting with donors. Be involved in your community. Stay updated. Become engaged. It’s important that you share your nonprofit goals, but it’s also important to hear and listen to what your prospective and existing donors are also concerned/interested in as well.

Lesson 3: Always Be Teachable, Though The Buck Stops With You 

Being a leader means delegation, getting jobs done (regardless of if you have all the support you need), and taking the blame or the fame for the end product. That’s a tall order. But it is the development director’s job description. Making sure that you are always being teachable and listening to new ideas is not an easy addition to the list. One would argue, however, that having that outlook is paramount to accomplishing the tasks listed above. To be teachable means that you are willing to delegate and not micro manage every minute detail; finagling resources and trying new tactics is the epitome of being open to new ideas; and creating an atmosphere of humility will go a long way when the blame or fame comes your way. For you staff and your donors, being teachable and listening will help create a strong team. Leadership, in the end, is always about motivating and utilizing what you have been given through the talents, abilities, and resources around you!

Charity Fundraising is always here to help, offering everything from event planning and advice to rare and exciting auction items! Contact us to get started on letting us help your nonprofit cause. We applaud and thank your leadership and contribution to the nonprofits that are helping make this world a better and brighter place.