Back to Oppelt Insights

Defining Executive Director-Development Director Fundraising Responsibilities

for executive directors work relationships Jun 20, 2022

As I explain in The Sustainable High ROI Fundraising System, “Although your fundraising staff are responsible for implementing specific fundraising activities, you also bear some responsibility for how well your development staff performs. You work in tandem as a team. You, the executive director, set the tone, providing the environment your development staff operate in to raise the financial support needed for the agency to thrive and grow. Both of you deal with the external environment. Both are dependent on one another to ensure success. Both engage in some of the same tasks, just at different levels, such as planning, budgeting, and evaluating. How do you assign responsibilities so that together you produce the best financial results?

Fundraising Responsibilities to Delegate

“Although you and your board are responsible for the overall planning, particularly through creating a strategic plan, your development director is responsible for creating the annual development plan you oversee. A development plan is based on your nonprofit’s mission and is focused on your agency’s vision. It includes all aspects of the development process, including technology, communications, fundraising methods, staffing, and board involvement.

“In the same vein, whereas you are responsible for creating organizational budgets, your development director creates a departmental and individual budget for each fundraising activity. The budgeting process will involve some back and forth, and y0u bear ultimate responsibility, but budgeting for day-to-day fundraising needs is something you can delegate.

“You can also delegate the identification of new prospects, researching donors, data entry, and database management, as well as a fair amount of donor cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship. As the leader of the organization, you can’t delegate it all, though. Major donors will want to meet with you. You can leave the logistics to your fundraising staff. However, you will still need to interact with important donors.

“Same with evaluating fundraising performance. You can delegate the day-to-day and activity assessments to your staff, but you need to be on top of financial performance. When I was an executive director, I accomplished this level of oversight through daily monitoring of our financial position and revenue streams.

Fundraising Responsibilities to Keep

“There is no doubt about it. If your development staff are doing their jobs, they will spend a lot of time developing and nurturing relationships in the community. As such, they are keenly aware of your nonprofit’s reputation in the general community. Tap into this knowledge so you can build an organization that is responsive to community needs, as well as those of clients. As the organization’s day-to-day leader, you are the most significant influence on your nonprofit’s culture. Creating a healthy culture is not something you can delegate. Tap into your development staff’s experience with the external environment to inform you of the kind of culture the community will best respond to.

“With so many operational issues needing your attention, it is easy to rely on your fundraising staff to be the face of your agency. Don’t totally let them. Take your responsibility as the chief organizational representative and work with your development staff in building meaningful donor relationships. Meet with major donors with your development staff. You can leave the solicitation to the staff, but your presence as agency head is crucial.

“In addition, you cannot delegate being the main staff liaison to the board. Work with the development director to involve your board in fundraising but don’t abdicate your responsibility. It is vital that you set an example for and teach your board how to fundraise. We talked about engaging your board in fundraising in Chapter Six.” For a sneak peek into Chapter Six, see the articles How to Overcome Board Fundraising Resistance and How Do You Get Board Members to Participate in Fundraising?

To learn the complete sustainable high ROI fundraising system and raise the kind of money you dream of, get your copy of the book The Sustainable High ROI Fundraising System today.

For One-on-One Support

Let’s talk about how your fundraising is going, any improvements you want to see, and what your next steps are. Just schedule a complimentary, thirty-minute strategy session. During our time together, we’ll clarify your issues and explore possible solutions.

Click the button below to get some time with me. I look forward to getting to know you!

I want to move my fundraising to the next level