Development – you can’t do it alone

One of my first observations in development was that you’re only as good as those that surround you.  Building relationships with donors is hard work.  It takes a lot of time and energy!  And, the pressure, especially at the beginning, can be pretty overwhelming.  If I have one piece of advice for anyone new to this field it would be:  don’t try to do it alone!  It’s so important to have a great support network to guide you, support you and just plain complain to!

One of the first smart things I did was to connect with my fellow development directors that were hired around the same time.  We started a group that met (and continues to meet) at least every other week, and always when one of us needs to talk. We each brought different skill sets to the group and we were able to help each other navigate the often choppy waters of development.  They have kept me sane, encouraged me, listened to me, and were always there when I really needed someone to talk to.  Without this network, my experience as a development director would have been much different – and definitely much less fun!

I was also fortunate to be assigned to a college with a seasoned development director.  She became my mentor and helped me learn all the facets of raising major donations for a very busy college.  This was, and continues to be, the best experience for me and one that I would recommend to all development departments.  Assign your new development personnel to an experienced director – and give that experienced director recognition and reward for going the extra mile to build a dynamic, knowledgeable team.

Finally, having a strong support team that is always ready and willing to help get the job done is so important.  Development personnel usually have pretty ambitious metrics that they have to meet.  We’re supposed to be out of the office and meeting with donors – as much as possible!  This is where your support team can really make a difference.  They can get things done so that your donors don’t even know when you’re travelling and when you’re in the office – it’s seamless.

In a recent Fundraising Success article titled “Major Gifts Fundraising:  You Need a Friend” author Jeff Schreifels touched on the need to have a friend in this business.  He mentioned how grateful he is for the people along the way who helped him in his life and career.  I wholeheartedly agree!  And, I want to take this opportunity to thank all those people who have guided me both personally and professionally!  You know who you are!!

Please take a moment and share this on twitter with your colleagues and friends.



About dknotek2015

I am a Development Director for the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. Having worked in the Development and Alumni Relations Department for the past eight years, I have a unique background in development, philanthropy, and relationship building. I am a University of Nevada, Reno alum as well as a current MBA candidate. You could say I am silver and blue through and through! I am passionate about helping others. I understand how important education is to our local community, the nation, and the world. I remember struggling as a student to finish my own education, and how grateful I was when I received support through the generosity of others. As a professional, I excel at securing private donations which support the students, faculty, programs, and research of the College of Science. I am uniquely qualified to bring potential donors together with areas about which they are passionate and feel compelled to support.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Development – you can’t do it alone

  1. Brian Saeman says:

    Donna, I think this is a very thoughtful statement about the need for teamwork in the development industry. Success will be difficult to achieve, and certainly a frustrating goal, without the support of our fellow development officers and staff. Well done.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s