Did you know that development directors who stay in jobs longer are able to raise significantly more money than if they were to hop from one organization to the next?
It should come as no surprise.
If fundraising truly is about relationships, development directors need to be at their organizations for enough years to develop solid relationships in the community.
It Takes Staying Power to Raise More Money
Unfortunately, the nonprofit sector has a real problem in that development directors simply don’t stay in their jobs very long. If you have been in your current job for more than three years, you are the exception, not the rule.
Recently, I was discussing hiring a new development director with a client and we decided we were not going to consider any job hoppers. We wanted someone with staying power.
What we meant by that was that a qualified candidate would have to have held one job out of their last two, for at least five years. And, when looking back at their last four jobs, I wanted at least two of those jobs to have been for five years or more each.
The Sad Truth
Unfortunately, so many development directors routinely hop from job to job, and resumes that demonstrate real staying power are few and far between. Those candidates who have held jobs for seven years or more really stand out.
Not only that, but the research project I completed recently was very clear in the results — and there is a direct correlation between longevity of a development director and the amount of major gifts raised.
So the question becomes:
How long does a person need to stay in a job to have real impact?
And more importantly:
How do we keep development directors in place long enough to establish solid relationships and truly raise major gifts?
8 Ways to Keep Your Development Director
Here are my top 8 ideas for keeping your development director (in no particular order):
- Invest in their continuing education, including training (e.g., AFP, conferences, etc.)
- Offer appropriate and generous compensation
- Provide a fun and happy work environment
- Require time off – insist they take their days
- Reward work well done with praise and appreciation
- Offer increasing levels of responsibility
- Provide realistic goals
- Offer flexible schedules
I’m sure there are many more than I’ve listed, but most of the ideas above are simple and doable, and would help increase the amount of time that development directors stay at their organization.
A Final Plea
Finally, before we wrap up, I would say to any executive director watching, if you have a great development director, ask them:
What can I do to keep you?
In other words, what do they need or want in order to stay?
It could be as simple as another week of vacation or a better title. Whatever it is, if you have a great development director, do anything in your power to keep them. If you don’t they just might start job hunting.
What would it take to keep you at your nonprofit?