How Do I Become a Development Director?

Explore the career requirements for development directors. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Global Operations & Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Development Director?

Development directors are senior financial officers who cultivate donors and oversee fundraising for organizations. Some of their responsibilities may include identifying potential donors and reaching out to them on behalf of the organization, providing advisement on advertising campaigns to bring attention to upcoming fundraisers, and setting fundraising goals for the organization. They also may be in charge of managing other fundraising and advertising staff.

For more details about education and certification requirements, read on.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Nonprofit management
Social sciences
Financial management
Certification Option CFRE International certification
Key Skills Finance savvy, effective communication, personableness
Job Growth (2018-2028) 8% for all public relations and fundraising managers*
Average Salary (2018) $131,570 for all public relations and fundraising managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education and Certification Do I Need to Become a Development Director?

This is not an entry-level position. You will probably need a bachelor's degree in nonprofit management, social sciences or financial management. If you hold a bachelor's degree is in an unrelated field, you might earn the necessary education through a certificate program in nonprofit management. Courses may include entrepreneurship, leadership and grant writing. You may need a graduate degree to qualify for some positions.

Certification is voluntary for development directors. CFRE International requires that you have a minimum of five years of experience with proven professional performance and service involvement to qualify for certification ( You must also have 80 education points, and adhere to CFRE International's accountability standards and pass a certification exam.

What Kind of Experience Will I Need?

You will need previous experience working in fundraising and public relations. Your experience should include personnel management, strategic planning and grant writing. You must also be familiar with soliciting donations, planning and hosting events, giving presentations and creating press releases. You will need excellent interpersonal and conflict management skills to engage the press and potential donors effectively.

Where Will I Work?

Religious organizations, not-for-profit hospitals and clinics, shelters, veteran service organizations, museums and animal rescues are just a few examples of the types of places that hire development directors to increase their exposure and solicit financial support. Any organization that relies on donations has the need for seasoned development professionals.

What Job Duties Might I Have?

As a development director, you will cultivate and maintain relationships with donors and volunteers. You will manage development staff in the planning and execution of fundraising events, presentations, campaigns and publications. As part of a management team, you will help develop the organization's strategic plan and produce reports for the board of directors. You must present an engaging and professional appearance at all times since you will be the public face of your organization.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

You may also be interested in becoming an advertising, promotions, and marketing manager. This job, which requires a bachelor's degree, involves planning advertising campaigns and programs to create interest in new products or services. You would likely collaborate with other professionals in the design of the campaign, like art directors and sales agents. Another possible career is a job as a public relations specialist, which also requires a bachelor's degree. These professionals are in charge of cultivating a likeable public image for the product or company they represent. This may involve creating media campaigns and planning fundraisers.

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