Your First 30 Days As a New Development Director

New Development DirectorHere’s the situation. I was hired as the new Development Director at Millennium Promise, a pretty significant nonprofit, and immediately I was thrown into the fire.

Now, fires are par-for-the-course for Development Directors. Your top funder is coming for a site visit at noon? That huge government grant is due this Friday? The invitations to the spring gala needed to be sent to the printer last Friday?! These are just a few of the flames you’ll feel lapping at your feet.

But a fire on the very first day?

I was expected to pitch a major donor that week. A $1.5 million ask. I didn’t know much about the program I was pitching. I knew even less about this very VIP donor. The meeting had been scheduled over a month earlier and absolutely could not be moved.

Of course I made the pitch. I even got the gift (in just a few months), which helped reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Important stuff.

But this was just one more example of the chaos that is fundraising. I’ve been there countless times.

And so along with my good friend Smokey the Bear, I’ve developed a 30-day plan for you, my new DOD colleague (that’s “Director of Development” for the uninitiated), that will leave you feeling like one of New York’s Bravest (what we call firefighters in this fair city.)Continue Reading


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