Several weeks ago I was talking to a Development Director of a noted regional charity. She had been hired to increase the organization’s "new" donor base while her Executive Director maintained all the relationships with the charity’s historical major donors. I was personally impressed with her background in the corporate world and thought her skills would translate beautifully in her new nonprofit position. She was bright and cared a lot about making a difference and fulfilling her responsibilities.
What struck me during our conversation was her distress. In the time since her hire date, she felt a lot of pressure to just DO HER JOB, but with little or no support to do it. Her ideas were constantly put down and she was essentially unrecognized for any really positive things she was doing.
I’m dumbfounded when I hear stories like this. Because of the shortage in trained development professionals, nonprofits are often short-handed and on the constant lookout for talent. When a charity makes the commitment to hire a fundraising professional, it doesn’t make sense to isolate them and hope for the best. The development function is not easy but it is wonderfully rewarding. However, it can be unnecessarily challenging if the function is not understood or valued. What can your nonprofit do to support your development staff and inspire them to maximize their effectiveness?
I believe that it comes down to making a commitment to create a culture of philanthropy throughout your entire organization.