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Director of Appreciation Versus Director of Development
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Director of Appreciation Versus Director of Development

I have yet to be introduced to a nonprofit that will admit to having all the money they need. Instead I hear from nonprofits may who have small staffs that want or need more money to build the capacity i.e. add more people to help in doing the work or being able to focus on some of the basic tasks of keeping the organization going. Few nonprofits can afford the luxury of having one or more persons designated to be the development director or grant writer whose only job is to seek out potential funding sources.

However, for those nonprofits that do have this positions in place I would like to challenge you to think for a moment!

What if everyone that had the title of Director of Development changed not only the title but their attitude and became the Director of Appreciation instead?

When I hear or say the word appreciation it sounds pleasing. However, when I hear or say the word development I just don’t have a good warm feeling, sorry! Maybe it is because I have in my own mind a group of folks standing in the corner asking each other: “Well, what do you think we can get out of this guy,” versus hearing someone say and really mean, “thank you for your continued support!”

I am not in any way just trying to play a game of semantics with you but just wondering if a real shift took place what the results might look like.

Currently the job description for the a typical director of development means everything from updating or establishing a donor database to coming up with additional ways to build individual, corporate and other major gifts. This person also is expected to do grant research and then write grant applications to foundations and government agencies; help in doing donor appeals via direct mail and phone solicitations; update all fundraising materials including but not limited to brochures and other publications including an annual report; update the website to keep it fresh; prepare all press releases and make sure all media outlets are aware of our upcoming fundraising events.

Also, the clincher is to be responsible for other duties that may be assigned in the future by the executive director.  Whew, are you tired yet? Finally saving the best for last all this is expected for the “huge salary” of $30,000!

For you development directors out there it is time to pull out your Power Ranger outfit and suit up! Seriously, however, while my hat is off to these individuals but I can’t help but wonder how many can truly be successful and not burn themselves to a crisp within a few years!

In my humble opinion most of the heavy lifting needs to be done at the top of the food chain i.e. the executive director versus expecting the development director to do it all. Yet, I realize this is not the way the world works. Interestingly too I realize that development directors are like city or county managers or police chiefs. Meaning if results are not seen in a short period of time then your suitcase might need to be packed while the executive director tells the board you just didn’t have what it takes.

Yet again, even if a lot of the above previous job description was included, if the person’s main focus was first and foremost to be a person that was all about making sure donors felt in their hearts and minds that they were truly appreciated, I have to wonder would things be different than they are now?

DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to provide legal or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.