Jobs and More Jobs . . . Redux: Chief Development Officer

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You’re not the CEO; that was my previous column.

You’re the chief development officer, the leader of the philanthropy program. What’s your scope of responsibility? What are you accountable for?

Keep this in mind: You are not responsible for raising the money. The institution —staff and board members together—are responsible for raising the money and ensuring that the money is raised.

As the chief development officer, you are responsible for designing and facilitating the process to raise money. You are responsible for enabling your CEO and your board members and your other fundraising volunteers to help raise money. And, of course, you are responsible for actually asking for gifts, along with others.

Here’s my job description for the chief development officer. For more about the development officer and other fundraisers, see the special chapter in my book Strategic Fund Development: Building Profitable Relationships That Last, 3rd edition. This new and expanded edition was released by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., in March 2011.

Position Title: Chief Development Officer               Reports To: Chief Executive Officer

Job Summary

Leads the organization’s process to chart its course in philanthropy and fund development. Guides staff and volunteers to institutionalize philanthropy and fund development within the organization, securing charitable contributions to support mission and vision.

Specific accountabilities

1. Serves as part of the senior management team, working to ensure organizational health and effectiveness.

a.       Participates with the chief executive, senior staff, and board in defining the organization’s values, mission, and vision, and ensuring organizational health and effectiveness.

b.      Provides vital input in short- and long-term strategic and operational planning and positioning within the organization.

c.       Helps leadership identify and address organizational development issues that challenge and support health and effectiveness in general, and fund development specifically.

d.      Serves as an organizational ambassador, nurturing community relationships and identifying individuals for board candidacy.

2. Fosters a culture of philanthropy throughout the organization, and creates a donor-centered organization that nurtures loyalty through a comprehensive relationship-building program including cultivation and communications.

3. Evaluates the effect of internal and external forces on the organization and its fund development, recommends short- and long-range fund development plans and programs that support the organization’s values, mission, and general objectives.

a. Helps the organization define performance measures for fund development, monitors results.

b. Helps the chief executive officer, development committee(s), and board fulfill their due diligence obligations to ensure an effective fund development program.

4. Keeps informed of developments in philanthropy and fund development as well as the general fields of management and the not-for-profit sector.

a.       Informs the chief executive and volunteer leadership on the condition of the organization’s fund  development program and on important factors influencing it, including current trends, issues, challenges, and opportunities.

b.      Recommends policy positions concerning fund development, and facilitates optimum decision making by organizational leadership.

5. Provides general oversight of all of the organization’s fund development activities, manages the day-to-day operations of the development function, and monitors adequacy of strategies and tactics.

a.       Ensures compliance with all relevant regulations and laws, maintains accountability standards to donors, and ensures compliance with code of ethical principles and standards of professional conduct for fund development and fundraisers.

b.      Ensures establishment of and compliance with the organization’s own fund development and philanthropic principles, policies, and procedures.

c.       Ensures stability by creating a work environment that is rewarding to staff and volunteers.

d.      Fosters a smoothly operating development function through timely and effective resolution of disruptions.

e.       Appropriately represents the institution, its board, and executive director to donors, prospects, regulators, development committee(s), and fundraising volunteers.

6. Supports attainment of the organization’s fund development goals through the selection, development, motivation, and evaluation of human resources, both professional and volunteer.

a.       Helps the board and development committee(s) determine accountabilities for board members and fundraising volunteers, and helps evaluate performance regularly.

b.      Helps identify, cultivate, recruit, develop, and evaluate fundraising volunteers. Assures proper training and placement, supervision and evaluation, recognition of fundraising volunteers, and thanking and releasing as necessary.

c.       Establishes personnel accountabilities for development staff, and evaluates performance regularly.

d.      Pursues formal and informal education for self and others. Designs educational programs in fund development for staff and volunteers; participates as teacher and facilitator.

7. Works with the chief executive officer and leadership volunteers to enable the board and its members to fulfill their fund development roles. Facilitates the optimum interaction between management and volunteers.

a.       Engages people in process, encourages questioning, and promotes participatory decision making.

b.      Gets the best thinking and involvement of each board member and each fundraising volunteer, and stimulates each one to give his/her best.

c.       Works with the chief executive and volunteer leadership to make development committee(s) and the board function effectively in fund development.

d.   Annually, evaluates the performance of fundraising volunteers and reports to the executive director with recommendations for board candidacy.

8. In keeping with the body of knowledge and best/next practice, designs and ensures implementation of cost-effective fund development programs, employing economy while maintaining an acceptable level of quality and solid return on investment.

a.       Ensures development of a balanced funding mix of donor sources and solicitation programs, tailored to the needs of the organization, that will enable it to attract, retain and motivate donors and fundraising volunteers.

b.      Ensures proper planning, including goal setting, strategy identification, benchmarking, and evaluation to support fund development.

c.       Ensures sound fiscal operation of development function, including timely, accurate, and comprehensive development of charitable contributions income and expense budgets, reporting, monitoring, and implementation.

d.      Combines development resources in such a way as to maximize quantity and quality to obtain a set of results. Ensures appropriate market testing to reduce risk and assure success.

e.       Helps board members, chief executive, other fundraising volunteers, and staff identify, cultivate, and solicit charitable gifts.

f.       Solicits contributions on behalf of the organization, generally by accompanying volunteers.

g.       Ensures development and writing of foundation, corporate and government proposals, and solicitation materials.

h.      Ensures design and maintenance of donor and prospect records, gift management systems, and informational reports.

i.        Ensures appropriate prospect research.

Primary Relationships

This position reports to the CEO and serves as a part of the senior management team. The position supervises the [list the positions.]

Within the agency, the position has primary relationships with the financial operation staff, senior management staff, and program staff. Outside the agency, the position coordinates with the board of directors, fundraising volunteers, donors, and funding sources.

Performance expectations

As a member of the senior management team, this is a high-stress position that helps set the direction and ensures the health of the institution. The individual is expected to be a competent fundraising technician and an excellent organizational development specialist.

The individual is expected to: Translate broad goals into achievable steps. Help set and manage appropriate expectations. Handle detailed, complex concepts and problems and make rapid decisions regarding management and development issues. Plan and implement programs. Establish strong and appropriate relationships with CEO, staff, board, volunteers, donors, and the general community. Develop smooth and constructive relationships with people from all segments of the community.

The individual is expected to: Plan and meet deadlines. Maintain a flexible work schedule to meet the demands of executive management. Demonstrate initiative and work as a team player.

The individual is expected to: Adhere to the highest ethical standards in management, governance, and fund development. Convey a professional and positive image and attitude regarding the organization and the not-for-profit sector. Demonstrate commitment to continued professional growth and development.


Comprehensive management skills and experience are required, including but not limited to short and long-term planning, evaluation, directing and motivating staff, oral and written communication skills, marketing and financial management, values clarification, organizational behavior and development, board development, and governance.

The position requires demonstrated experience in managing and implementing a comprehensive fund development program and producing charitable contributions. The individual is expected to be a highly competent enabler of volunteers and staff.

Knowledge and experience in the following areas is required: The nature and dimensions of philanthropy, ethics, motivations for giving and volunteering, research and cultivation practices, standard fundraising techniques (including face-to-face solicitation), proposal writing, special events, telephone solicitation, and direct mail, as well as development office functions, including gift processing, prospect and donor histories , and fundraising reporting. The individual is also expected to have demonstrated experience and confidence in asking people to contribute time and money. Familiarity with computer systems is necessary.

The amount of knowledge required would typically be acquired via a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of seven years fundraising experience in a professional position. Membership in a professional fundraising association is expected. Baseline certification in fundraising, the CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Professional) is preferred.