5 Teams That Directly Impact Development

By Chelsea Alves
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Your organization relies on your development team to bring in money, and your development team relies on different departments to help them do their jobs effectively. But how these departments interact and support development on a daily basis sometimes seems like a mystery. With the development team playing such a crucial role at nonprofit organizations, it’s important to understand not only what they do but also the impact other departments have on what they do.

1. Marketing

The underlying goal of the development department is to raise funds that support the nonprofit’s programs. From these programs the marketing department generates success stories and statistics that help show impact and progress. Marketing is also responsible for taking these stories and results and sharing them on various channels to help promote the organization.

Marketing brings the nonprofit’s brand front and center in hopes of attracting new donors and fundraisers for development to prospect. Without marketing, publicity would not exist and attracting new donors would be much more difficult. Together, marketing and development are the perfect balance for retaining and gaining new supporters.

2. Finance

Given the development department’s financial goals, they work closely with the finance team to raise money in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. In fact, Development Directors are often accountable to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and they often interact with the CFO when complex fundraising issues arise.

It’s increasingly common for large donors, grantors, and private funders to come with a variety of imposed restrictions and reporting requirements. Additionally, almost all donors ask non profits to send them financial reports. This can be much more complicated than it seems, because different donors want reports in different formats. These limitations can consume valuable resources and create a heavy workload for your accounting department. If your development and finance systems are connected, however, this simplifies reporting for even the most complex income and expense allocation, even across multiple programs, projects, and fiscal years. This enables the development team to pursue additional funding opportunities without having to focus on financial reporting and funding restrictions from these large and private funders.

Fusion between finance and development streamlines operations, improves constituent services, and simplifies reporting for even the most complex income and expense allocation. With both departments working together, an organization can better demonstrate accountability to investors.

3. Human Resources

Staffing decisions—such as hiring, retaining, and recruiting high-quality candidates—are among the most important decisions nonprofit organizations make. According to Gallup, companies that increase their number of talented managers and double the rate of engaged employees achieve, on average, 147 percent higher earnings per share than their competition. To accomplish this, human resources must seek out and hire top-notch talent for all teams, including the development department.

The human resources department also oversees employee satisfaction. They must build strategies that motivate employees and keep them happy. This is especially important for the development department, which generally sees the largest turnover of all teams.

4. Board of Directors

Board members get involved with a nonprofit organization to provide individual expertise and experience to help advance social impact. They are there to serve the best interests of the organization, while championing a social cause they are passionate about. Board members are eager to help in all areas, but they don’t often have fundraising experience. This is where the development team comes into play. They can empower board members to help on the fundraising side of things.

A development department should create opportunities for board members to participate in fundraising efforts—having the board serve as ambassadors, solicitors, and networkers. While a board of directors may not necessarily have fundraising experience, the development team can help them by:

  • Setting expectations
  • Communicating how fundraising relates to the mission
  • Training board members for fundraising success
  • Partnering experienced fundraisers with not-so-experienced fundraisers
  • Having them steward existing donors
  • Teaching them how to cultivate potential donors

Fundraising is an organization-wide effort that should include the board of directors. The development department should empower this group to help drive their own goals forward.

5. Grant Writers

While grant writers and development team members work on different methods for fundraising, they are both tied to the same goal: raising money. Grant writing is a specialized skill that falls into a diversified fundraising plan ultimately lead by the development team. Grant writers are responsible for bringing in money from institutions such as government departments, corporations, foundations, or trusts by way of awarded grants. They work hard to research and tailor each application to the specific foundation they are applying to.

While grant writing is important, it isn’t sustainable enough for an organization alone. According to Nonprofit Hub, grant-based funding should only account for about 20 percent of a nonprofit’s total funding. The development team must work to make up the rest.

Development may not be the most glamorous job, but it is one of the most important positions in the nonprofit sector, and their work is vital. No matter what department you are in at a nonprofit organization, you will interact with the development team and should therefore establish a mutually beneficial relationship. Development affects the whole company, and every department at a nonprofit plays a role in their success.

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