Essential Steps for Becoming an Effective Development Director

Effective Development Director
Effective Development Director

As the development director of a small or medium-sized nonprofit, it’s likely that a lot of the fundraising goals and donor management tasks rest in your hands.

As you’re aware, there are a variety of areas you can look for funding — individual donors, major gifts, corporate sponsors, grants. The struggle is, when targeting any of these areas, you’re not necessarily practicing the same strategy.

This can feel like an all-over-the-place approach that ends in you pulling out your hair while asking, “What on earth should I do next?!”

So, how do you figure out where to prioritize when you have limited resources and an immediate need for funding? Take a time out to do some planning to become an effective development director.

Break down your historical budget.

As a development director, you might be focused on future monies coming in — but it’s important to understand where money has come from in the past.

Even if you’ve been with your organization for years, you might realize new trends by taking a look at the historical financial path your nonprofit has taken.

What you need to understand is which percentage is coming from where: if 50% of your organization is consistently funded by individual donors, then 50% of your time should go towards cultivating those relationships and developing communications to keep those individuals giving. The next 15% is from corporate sponsorships, so spend a similar amount of time reaching out to and building rapport with the local business community. And so forth.

But don’t solely focus on history. If you also know that your organization will see more stability by building out more corporate donations, then adjust your percentages accordingly.

If you think about 5 days in a week, each day is worth 20% — so the build out your schedule accordingly.

Create buckets of tasks that fit within each category of financing.

Okay, great — you think — now I know that I should spend 2.5 days working on individual donors. What does that mean?

Take some time to brainstorm all the ways you’re ideally building that relationship to convince donors to give. Your list of Key Cultivation Steps could include tasks such as:

  • Monthly newsletter
  • Write blog post
  • 5 posts/week to social media
  • Phone calls touch points
  • Coffee meetings
  • Thank You letters
  • And so forth …

When you feel your list is comprehensive, set goals for how often you need to complete each throughout the month and find the best way to fit these pieces into your 2.5 day/week schedule.

How do I keep this all organized?

I’ve created a free Cultivation Calendar for tracking prospective donors and making sure you nurture the relationship properly to persuade individuals to give. This can also be modified for tracking corporate donors and other tiers of giving within your organization.


FREE RESOURCE: Download my Donor Cultivation Calendar

Track every prospective donor, and every move you make for a more effective, successful fundraising process.

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