Yesterday, in an article titled “Firing your Development Director? Join the Club!,” I reported on a study that CompassPoint has published about the much maligned position of development director. It has been madly tweeted ever since, and this morning I received a call from a friend acting in such a position, saying that it rang her bells—and not in a good way. “I’d say more,” she went on, “but I have to focus here and keep trying to put together a list of past donors from these scraps of paper and bits of string.”


The study very succinctly lays out a vicious cycle that many nonprofits are in; one where they hire a development director into a position that is often marginalized and without appropriate infrastructure, and within a short time—natch—the organization and development director come to a parting of the ways, and the development director is fired or quits. Rinse—repeat.

Meanwhile, money is presumably left on the table and many are left with the impression that the pool of candidates or the hire was somehow off, or the fit was off, when really we just did not set the table properly.

As Dr. Phil always says, “…And how’s that working for you?”

The study contains much to make you think and do differently. Thanks to CompassPoint for yet another fabulous, grounded piece of research and to the Walter and Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund for funding another such study. The sector is indebted to that management assistance organization and foundation for a lot, but not least their willingness to invest in building and sharing knowledge.