Do These Things to Master Your New Director of Development Role

Jul 24, 2023
Director of Development Role

Starting a new job as a development director can be challenging, especially in the field of fundraising. In this blog post, we'll provide valuable tips and tricks to help new development directors gain visibility, achieve early wins, and effectively assess their staffing and resources. Whether you're new to the role or looking for insights to enhance your fundraising career, this guide will offer valuable advice for long-term success.

Tip 1: Understand Past Performance and Revenue Channels

When starting a new job, it's crucial to assess the past performance of fundraising efforts. Evaluate revenue channels such as grants, major gifts, annual giving, events, and planned giving. If you have a team, analyze their performance from a data, structural, and overall performance standpoint. If you don't have a team, focus on revenue by channel. Request specific data from your database admin, such as a pie chart depicting total revenue for each channel. This analysis will provide visibility into where your revenue comes from and help you make informed decisions.

Tip 2: Calculate Return on Investment (ROI)

While many organizations focus on the cost to raise a dollar, it's more beneficial to calculate the return on investment (ROI). Flip the formula by switching expenses and revenue. For instance, if your cost to raise a dollar is 20 cents, your ROI would be $5. Presenting ROI instead of cost to raise a dollar helps stakeholders understand the value and impact of fundraising efforts, fostering a positive perspective.

Tip 3: Analyze Solicitor Performance

Examine solicitor performance by reviewing their fundraising achievements over the past three years. Identify top-performing gift officers who consistently raise substantial funds. This allows you to retain and potentially elevate them to mentor and train others. Ensure portfolios are equitable, providing every gift officer an opportunity to succeed. Analyzing solicitor performance helps gauge individual success, identify best practices, and shape future development strategies.

Tip 4: Dive into Organizational Analytics

Analyze philanthropic revenue trends to understand the changing philanthropic landscape. Use stacked bar charts to compare revenue by fundraising tactic over the past five years. Additionally, assess the distribution of gifts across various giving levels to identify stability and churn. Track attrition by donor type to understand the impact of lost donors on your fundraising program. Furthermore, evaluate overall retention rates, retention by donor type, and retention by gift level to identify areas for improvement and enhance donor retention strategies.

Tip 5: Emphasize Board Giving and Participation

Board giving is essential for fundraising success. Aim for 100% board participation each fiscal year, considering participation rates to ensure equity. Encourage board members to contribute, regardless of the gift size. Tracking board giving and participation allows you to foster a culture of philanthropy within the organization and engage board members in fundraising efforts.

Tip 6: Connect with Loyal Donors

Identify your most loyal donors—those who have consistently given for five or more consecutive years. Reach out to them personally, expressing gratitude for their support. This presents an opportunity to connect with them, potentially leading to face-to-face meetings and deeper engagement. Loyal donors might also reveal their intentions to include your organization in their estate plans, highlighting a valuable area for planned giving.

Starting a new job as a development director can be demanding, but with the right strategies, you can quickly gain visibility, achieve early wins, and effectively assess your resources. By understanding past performance, analyzing revenue channels, calculating ROI, evaluating solicitor performance, exploring organizational analytics, emphasizing board giving, and connecting with loyal donors, you'll be well-equipped to navigate your first fundraising job successfully. Remember, building strong relationships and employing data-driven strategies are key to long-term fundraising success. 

About Mary Hackett

Mary Hackett is a vibrant and engaging powerhouse in the world of major gift expertise, with a sparkling career steeped in the intricacies of fundraising operations. Residing in the picturesque town of Bend, Oregon, Mary's professional journey is as lively and inspiring as her scenic surroundings. Her extensive experience in fundraising is marked by a unique blend of strategic insight and a contagious enthusiasm that has consistently propelled organizations to new heights of success. With a knack for connecting with people and a deep understanding of the nuances of philanthropy, Mary has become a sought-after expert in her field. Her approach to fundraising is not just about meeting targets; it's about building relationships, weaving stories, and creating impactful experiences that resonate with donors and communities alike. In Mary's world, every fundraising campaign is an adventure, filled with opportunities to make a meaningful difference while having a whole lot of fun along the way. Want to work with Mary? 

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Learn more at www.maryhackett.co