Nonprofit Development Director Job Description

A development director's skills in fundraising can provide the resources to help a community in need.
i Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

A nonprofit organization’s primary objective is to support an issue or matter of public concern -- and for that, it needs money. The director of development obtains the necessary financial resources from various sources, including foundation grants, corporate sponsorships and events to advance the mission and success of the nonprofit. A development director’s role varies, depending on industry and size of the nonprofit. Their duties may include researching funding opportunities, maintaining relationships with donors, developing campaigns and planning events.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

    The director of development is responsible for obtaining funds from foundations, corporations, individuals and government sources through grant writing, annual appeals, events and strategic campaigns. To be successful, he must integrate a variety of skills, including the ability to use concise, persuasive writing to request grant funding for an organization’s programs and manage the grant submission process. He must also have excellent interpersonal skills to identify and cultivate positive working relationships with foundation program officers, individual donors and community leaders. Depending on the size of the nonprofit, the development director may consult with the executive director regarding program implementation, evaluation and long-term sustainability..

Career Ladder

    Entry-level positions in a large organization include development officers, grant writers and event coordinators. These jobs typically involve researching potential funding opportunities, maintaining funding calendar activities and coordinating fundraising events. Mid-level positions include grant managers and major gifts officers. These jobs incorporate skills like writing proposals, preparing budgets and assisting senior development staff to cultivate relationships with major donors. A director is typically in a leadership position, where she works closely with the executive director and nonprofit board to create fundraising strategies and provide progress reports throughout the year. In addition, she manages development staff activities, including the grant submission process and donor communications.

Education and Experience

    The minimum qualification to become a director of development is a bachelor’s degree in English, public affairs, communications or journalism, although some larger nonprofits prefer a master’s degree. It also calls for five to 10 years of technical writing, grant writing, fundraising, event planning or other development-related experience. Some nonprofits may also require you to be certified through an organization like the Association of Fundraising Professionals.


    Fundraising professionals earned a mean $105,690 per year, or $50.81 per hour, as of May 2011, states the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS predicts that the number of jobs for fundraising managers will grow by 16 percent between 2010 and 2020.

the nest