Last September, I authored a post for Foundation Center titled Directors of Development Are in High Demand. How Can You Become A Chosen One?, where I explored the persistent demand for talented development directors. I opened the article by citing the 241 ‘Director of Development’ job openings on the Association of Fundraising Professionals Job Center at the time. Upon checking it again for this new article, I’m happy to report it’s down to just 238 openings! Progress!

In case you missed my sarcasm there, the fact that demand for development directors remains relatively unchanged on this and other job boards is probably no surprise to you. In my 15+ years in development, just about every organization I’ve worked with has at some point struggled to fill a development job with the right candidate.

This talent pipeline problem has really been nagging me because I think the trickle-down effect it’s having on our communities is largely overlooked. I work with so many tremendous organizations making a real difference in the communities they serve, but they struggle to identify, recruit, and retain the talent needed to drive the revenue. And simply stated, when any organization’s revenue function is weak, overall organizational growth and impact are inhibited.

The nonprofit industry will continue to struggle unless we work to address the talent pipeline problem. But where do we begin? A great business strategy book called Traction by Gino Wickman, recognizes that human capital is a critical element of organizational success and suggest leaders build their teams through the filter of “GWC” which stands for get it, want it, and capacity to do it. Upon reading this, it struck me that the development talent pipeline is probably filled with people who get it, still relatively large when it comes to people who want it, but significantly narrowed when it comes to individuals with the capacity to do it.

I believe if we want to address the pipeline problem, we must address the capacity problem. Organizational leadership should be willing to identify the people who get it and want it and be willing to invest in building their capacity to do it. That means committing to giving development professionals ample time, training, and support to master their roles. While it may mean more patience up front, I suspect it will pay dividends in the long haul.

Winston Churchill said “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.” As a development professional who has trained in and around successful development operations, and as a champion for capacity building as a pipeline solution, I’m on a mission to share my knowledge with anyone who aspires to help a development officer grow from good to great.

I’ve taken my multitude of ‘director’ experiences and distilled them down into seven habits I believe the most efficient and effective development leadership professionals should adapt into their everyday work. My hope is that these seven habits will enable good directors to become great, aspiring directors to advance into the role, and the hiring managers and supervisors to recognize the traits modeled by great directors (and also the resources they need to be successful).

Join me as I share those seven habits in a fun and engaging presentation I’ve titled the “Seven Habits of a Kick-A$$ Development Director” on Thursday, March 14 at Foundation Center Northeast DC, a Service of Candid. Participants will learn core components and competencies behind the seven habits and simple strategies for implementing each habit, as well as enjoy the opportunity to connect with other directors and share tips and strategies. Register today!

About the Author(s)

Subscribe to our blog

When we publish a new blog post, you’ll get notified by email.

Interested in being a guest writer for our blog? Learn how