This is the career story of a nonprofit development director as told to JustJobs.com Academy. This site features real stories from professionals in a myriad of professions. If you have considered a career in philanthropy, read on to learn what the job is really like from this Associate Director of Development. Visit JustJobs for more interviews with philanthropy professionals including one from a fundraiser and a giving coordinator and many others.
I have been employed for several years in a Development Department for a nonprofit agency. My job titles have changed along the way and currently I am the Associate Director of Development. It’s expected that I will eventually be the Director, but it’s unclear when that might happen. My organization supports people with developmental disabilities by assisting with location of resources, operating group homes, and offering many respite options for families.
I entered this field for several reasons. My biggest motivation was the desire to do something that mattered and to help make this world a better place. I was aware my salary would probably range between $30,000- $40,000 for a while, but when I am named Director I expect to be making closer to the mid $60s. Clearly, I didn’t select this career path with dreams of vast wealth. There are many other rewards that keep me going and I truly love my job.
One of the nice things about working at a nonprofit is that we get a great vacation package and 12 paid holidays. I always joke they can’t pay us very well but they are happy to give us enough days off to make up for that.
To work in the development field, it’s vital to have at least a two-year degree. A Masters degree is not required, but if you want to advance to a management position, it will help you get there. We are also offered tuition reimbursement if we decide to further our education. That benefit helped me complete my Masters degree.
My position involves wearing many hats. In a typical day I might spend 1-2 hours making phone calls to donors and event sponsors. I run committees that are overseeing various events and fundraising drives. I work on marketing campaigns, talk with reporters, and edit our agency newsletter. No two days are exactly the same and I am never bored.
I often meet with donors to maintain relationships, thanking them for their support and ensuring their future commitment. Those meetings are a highlight for me. It’s a time to pause and talk about the successes of our organization and share the details of our future goals. Those conversations always fill me with both pride and anticipation for what I do. My passion is evident and my fundraising goals are reached because of it. People respond when you are genuine.
Another wonderful part of my job is when I have the opportunity to spend time with the men and women our agency supports. They live in group homes that are lovely, clean, and very homey. The staff is exceptional and their compassion and kindness is humbling. I am consistently impressed by the wonderful people we employ. Seeing the smiles and pride on the faces of the men and women in the homes is simply priceless.
There have been a few challenges along the way. Nonprofits often run short-staffed to save costs. Unfortunately, that means I often find myself working extra hours to pick up the slack. Balancing my home and work life is very difficult at times. I have learned to set boundaries and to be open with my supervisors about what I can and cannot do. I no longer accept deadlines that will require excess hours. I was uncomfortable in the beginning because it’s in my nature to please people. However, I am glad I made the stand and I feel much better about my time now. Additionally, they agency recently approved a part-time position to assist in my department. I smiled to myself when I heard. I guess they finally admitted that I was doing the work of 1.5 people.
There’s a certain type of person who will do well in a nonprofit environment. If you are motivated by the knowledge that your work is positively affecting lives, this could be the job for you.
Associate director of disabled image from Shutterstock