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How to Write a Development Director Job Description: 4 Key Tips

Grow your nonprofit’s mission by partnering with experts in the field.

A development director is essentially the captain of your organization’s ship, and without an experienced nonprofit professional in command, chances are your overall funds and management might suffer.

To keep your nonprofit’s operations afloat, it’s imperative that your nonprofit seek out a born leader and expert philanthropist with a well-rounded development director job description.

Typically close partners with the executive director and major gift officer, your development director’s chief priority is to design and execute a killer fundraising game plan for your organization.

With so many duties on a development director’s shoulders, it’s understandable why your nonprofit’s executive search team may have trouble constructing an informative and inviting job post.

Thankfully, we’ve mapped out the essential elements in a development director job description for you to draw in top candidates with ease, including:

  1. A development director job description template.
  2. Development director key responsibilities.
  3. Development director job requirements.
  4. Where to post your development director job description.

No matter what your cause or community may be, these job description tips will ensure your organization finds the right development director to champion your philanthropic goals.

But before starting your search for a new executive director, ask yourself this, “Do you have a solid transition plan in place?” Implementing a transition plan ensures that your new director has all the tools they need to succeed. Learn more with our comprehensive guide.

Development Director Job Description Template

Due to the adaptable nature of a development director’s role, it’s easy for your nonprofit’s job description to become disorganized and overstuffed with information.

Make sure your job description stays on a clear and coherent path by taking inspiration from the following development director job description example. 

Columbus Learning Institute Seeks Development Director

The Columbus Learning Institute seeks a full-time development director to head our ongoing fundraising and operational needs. Reporting to the executive director, this professional must have an established background in coordinating nonprofit donation strategies and staff/volunteer leadership. This role involves organizing large-scale fundraising initiatives, working with board members, managing our annual fund and building relationships with donors, staff and volunteers. The development director will also assist our major gift officer with implementing major giving and planned giving fundraising strategies. Our ideal candidate will have a bachelor’s degree and a minimum of five years of fund development experience, preferably in the education and nonprofit fields. They should also be familiar with CRM nonprofit software, donor databases and other fundraising technology to use in their daily job duties. Applications will be accepted through October 31 and early submissions are encouraged. Please send application materials (resume, cover letter, references and salary requirements) to

This job description example is simple yet thorough in explaining the multi-functional executive role of the development director job opening.

If you would rather draft your development director job description using an alternative letter format, no worries! Simply check out DonorSearch’s free template and top tips for finding your nonprofit’s next executive leader.

Development Director Key Responsibilities

Your development director will most likely tackle a range of responsibilities all rooted in long-term fundraising (like capital campaigns), annual fund management and donor stewardship.

Luckily, the role of a development director can be molded to fit your organization’s exact needs. For instance, while a smaller nonprofit may enlist a volunteer to take on the job, another nonprofit may find more value in delegating a development director’s responsibilities to other executive leaders.

That being said, the development director role is certainly widespread enough to warrant a specific individual or team to manage all ongoing work.

Here are some of the main tasks that should fall to your nonprofit’s development director:

  • Planning and evaluating fundraising campaigns and activities.
  • Managing the organization’s budget and fundraising income programs.
  • Identifying and stewarding prospective donors.
  • Recruiting and training fundraising staff and volunteer leaders.
  • Staying on top of fundraising trends and the nonprofit community.

It’s also important to clarify in your job post the everyday activities your development director will handle such as:

  • Communicating with donors and staff via email, phone or social media.
  • Answering donor and staff inquiries in a timely fashion.
  • Using prospect research tools and your donor database to build donor relationships.
  • Creating solicitation materials for the fundraising team.

Overall, the ability to multi-task and connect with people are valuable qualities that should be emphasized in your development director job description. 

Development Director Job Requirements

Due to the versatile nature of the development director position, it’s not unusual for necessary job qualifications to vary between organizations. After all, your nonprofit’s unique objectives will most likely require the assistance of a tailored development director professional.

For ideas on what education, experience and primary skills to look for, follow along with us below.

1. Education and Experience Levels

As a top representative of your organization, it’s customary for your development director to meet greater expectations than other nonprofit staff. However, when it comes to analyzing a development director’s education and experience, the latter item should definitely be taken into higher consideration.

While a bachelor’s degree is essential, additional degrees and certificates may also be beneficial depending on the sophistication of the organization and its fundraising program.

Regardless, your nonprofit should focus more on your candidates’ fund development and team leadership experience in a nonprofit or career-related setting.

Your organization can prioritize this key information in your job description by asking applicants to detail notable fundraising planning, training and executing experience in their cover letter or application materials. Encourage them explain how their past fundraising experience will benefit your nonprofit and help them transition into your development director position.

2. Top-billed Skills in a Development Director

Your development director job description is also the perfect place to highlight ideal fundraising and technology skills that will set your applicants apart.

By taking note of specific skill sets early on, your organization can more efficiently review applications that not only meet your development director guidelines but rise above them.

Take a look at our top suggestions for preferred development director skills below:

  • Superb written, verbal and interpersonal skills.
  • Time management and flexibility with job duties.
  • Fundraising software and tools expertise.
  • Creative, self-starter attitude.
  • Donor and volunteer service mentality.
  • Organized and inspiring team leader.

These exemplary skills are most effectively outlined in a job description downloadable resource attached to your online job board post.

For more executive search best practices tailored to your local nonprofit needs, hop on over to Aly Sterling Philanthropy’s top four regional executive search locations.

Where to Post Your Development Director Job Description

Speaking of job boards, now that your development director job description is ready to go, it’s time to move forward with marketing your job opening online to qualified individuals.

A great place to start is by surveying leading nonprofit job boards to see which platform and pricing package best fits your needs and budget. While mainstream job search engines like LinkedIn and Indeed are tempting, we also encourage you to check out local nonprofit job boards to target ideal applicants in your area.

For example, did you know Aly Sterling Philanthropy posts local nonprofit job descriptions for their executive search clients?

In addition to exploring regional options, other virtual nonprofit job boards we recommend include:

  • CFRE International — This online career center offers one-of-kind employer services and job postings from around the world.
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy — A nonprofit magazine, this publication features grants, resources and a virtual job board.
  • Idealist — Visit this website for national nonprofit job and volunteer listings for English and Spanish-speaking applicants.

You can also search for resources that provide job posts related to your organization and industry. Let’s take a look at these education, healthcare and nonprofit-related examples.

  • The National School Foundation Association (NSFA) — This academic association supplies education fundraising resources and job posts for teaching and administrative positions.
  • Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) — A healthcare alliance, this organization features education and career development services, including an online job center.
  • Ohio Association of Nonprofit Associations (OANO) — This nonprofit ally promotes education, advocacy and widespread career opportunities in the Ohio nonprofit sector.
  • Charitable Advisors (of Indianapolis) — Visit this website for nonprofit consulting services and resources as well as a one-stop job portal for Indianapolis-based job seekers.

Another best practice is to prominently display the following details at the top of your development director job description in order to immediately attract a job hunter’s eye:

  • The official job title.
  • Your nonprofit’s name.
  • The application deadline.
  • Location.
  • Salary/compensation.

As we noted earlier, it also never hurts to pair a downloadable resource with your online job description to further expand on the exact qualities you’re seeking. 

As a separate document, this resource can be easily printed and shared. Furthermore, the branding connects the applicant to the cause and the extra space gives a nonprofit the opportunity to expand on their mission and location.

On the other hand, if your organization prefers to connect with nonprofit professionals directly, you can always work with an executive search firm to craft a customized job description.

A development director symbolizes many things about a nonprofit organization, like your creativity, work ethic and reputation to name a few. Start your executive search off right with a master development director job description that successfully draws in your top percentage of contenders.

For more on nonprofit hiring and executive search, check out these additional resources:

  1. How to Write a Major Gift Officer Job Description: 4 Must-Know Tips — Explore our strategies for creating an inviting and effective major gift officer job description. 
  2. Hiring a Fundraising Consultant: 12 Essential Tips — For nonprofits looking to bring on an executive search consultant, take a moment to review the hiring process first with our in-depth guide.
  3. 7 Tips for Hiring a Top-Notch Development Expert — Before you draft your development director job description, check out Qgiv’s essential tips for hiring this key executive player.

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