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10 Reasons to Thank Your Nonprofit Development Staff


By Elizabeth Pun

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

Your development staff members form the bedrock of your organization. Without their fundraising skills, you would be unable to run your programs or impact as many lives. Development work is both rewarding and tough, but in the midst of the long hours and hard work, your staffers commit to the fundraising grind and propel your mission forward. Here are just 11 of the countless reasons why they are an invaluable part of your organization.

1. They ask the awkward questions.

Nonprofit organizations do incredible work, and fundraising makes it all possible. But not everyone jumps at the idea of asking for money day-in and day-out. Development professionals ask the necessary, but sometimes delicate, questions that bring in revenue: “Will you give $300?” “What would you be comfortable giving now?” “When would be a better time to ask again?” They take the answers in stride, and then ask again. Which brings us to our next point…

2. They don’t give up after hearing “no” a hundred times.

Hearing the word “no” repeatedly comes with the territory. As challenging as it is, development professionals handle rejection on a regular basis. But they get back in the fundraising saddle each time. And not only are they persistent, but they are also attentive and strategic. By listening closely, they can sometimes identify what’s holding a donor back, and adjust their approach to turn that “no” into a “yes.”

3. They nurture donor relationships for months to win support.

Many people are scared of commitment, but your development staff is in it for the long haul. When prospects aren’t ready to donate, your fundraising team takes the time to educate them about your work and build trust. Once individuals donate, fundraisers commit to stewarding donors toward their next gift. Like any relationship, the cultivation process takes a lot of work. It requires patience and resolve. Your development staff puts in the effort.

4. They are your programs’ unsung heroes.

Your development staff makes all of your programs possible. They raise the funds that allow you to do all of your amazing work, driving your mission forward. When people talk about your organization and what it does, they usually speak to your programs—and not about the development staff that makes them possible. Development professionals are essential to your most crowd-pleasing programs, but they don’t often get the limelight.

Not only does your staff development team help drive your programs, but their hard work also enables you to pay your staff and rent your office. The money they raise keeps your operations running.

5. They keep your campaigns fresh and engaging.

Your organization launches a number of initiatives each year, and keeping them new and exciting can be a challenge. Time and time again, development professionals pump out ideas for new campaigns, events, and projects to engage supporters. Even in the middle of a campaign, when there’s often a lull in activity, your fundraisers’ creative juices can help you overcome the mid-campaign slump and finish strong. Your development staff brings the creativity needed for fundraising success.

6. They bring in donors who stay with your organization for years.

Development professionals aim to build lifelong donor relationships. Rather than just finding new donors every year, they work to engage and steward donors who will support your organization year after year. Retaining donors is cheaper than acquiring new ones, so successful fundraisers bringing in ongoing support also saves you money.

7. They bring many times their own salary into the organization.

Development professionals are often asked to raise hundreds of thousands—or even millions—of dollars for an organization. In the course of a year, they raise much more money than their annual salary. In many cases, especially at smaller nonprofits, development officers singlehandedly bring in such revenue, without the support of other staff. Your fundraisers are incredibly valuable to your nonprofit.

8. They institute monthly giving programs that give you reliable income.

One of a fundraiser’s most valuable efforts is launching a recurring giving program. Monthly donations can make a huge impact on a nonprofit’s operations. By bringing in monthly supporters, your development staff helps to increase donors’ annual contributions, grow their lifetime value, and create reliable income year-round. As a result, your fundraisers help create sustainable revenue that impacts the long-term health of your organization.

9. They juggle multiple fundraising tasks.

Many development staff members are asked to manage a laundry list of responsibilities. The same individual can be expected to run all individual giving efforts, write grants, design and write the newsletter, operate events, manage the website, and recruit volunteers. The time, labor, and emotional commitments run high. Ideally a nonprofit’s fundraising shouldn’t be left to one person, but fundraisers are stretched to take on these challenges more often than not.

10. They bring your organization up to speed with how donors want to be engaged.

The fundraising landscape is always shifting, and supporters constantly interact with your organization in new ways. In order to keep your donor base engaged, savvy development officers are always learning about new charitable giving trends. They’re the first to tap into strategies like online fundraising, mobile-optimized communications, and storytelling. They learn what drives donations, implement new tactics, and thus help you move the ball forward.

Your development staff is the foundation of your organization’s work. Fundraising can be a challenging task, and your team members rise to the occasion. When they succeed, your entire organization succeeds.

Win the Hearts and Minds of Donors

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