Transformative under the right conditions


In an article published in January in the Chronicle of Philanthropy entitled “Development Directors are not Miracle Workers” Rick Moyers puts forward a fundamental problem plaguing nonprofits.  Many institutions, especially small nonprofits, look to the hiring of a Development Director as the answer to all their fundraising needs.  While it is true that a good Development Director can effect great change and help transform an organization, that can only really take place if the right conditions exist.  The hiring of a great Director of Development must be only part of a greater overall strategy that includes a Board that creates the underlying conditions that allow an organization to be successful.  These include:

  • Hiring a strong Executive Director who understands fundraising is a primary part of his/her job.
  • Making sure the Executive Director can hire and maintain strong relationships with a high level of trust with his/her top administrators including the DoD.
  • That a clear job description exists for the DoD
  • A pervasive understanding across the institution that fundraising is part of everyone’s job.

Too often a nonprofit will lean on the Director of Development as the sole source of fundraising.  Yet even the best fundraiser will struggle in an environment without the aforementioned criteria in place.  It is time for all nonprofits to take a look at their organizations and organizational cultures and ask if they  have created “the underlying conditions that allow (our organization) to be successful at fundraising?”  If the answer is “Yes”  then the organization is ready to focus on hiring an impactful leader to serve as Development Director.  If the organization has not created a culture and environment that fosters fundraising, it should begin there before hiring a Development Director.  A Development Director can help transform an organization but only under the right conditions.


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