Here’s the Cliff Notes version, because I’ve definitely talked about this before:
Blah, blah, blah I once wanted to be a doctor/medical lab scientist/pharmacist/something else in the medical field at one point in my life, but actually, I’ve always wanted to work in nonprofit development since I worked at my first nonprofit. Seriously.
I literally thought that my first nonprofit was going to be a “temporary” thing and that I would just do that development thing because I was curious and have stayed in nonprofit development since.
A lot of people ask me about my job, and so as a result, I decided to do a little FAQ all about what I do as a career, and for a job! Is this post a result of all the low-key rude questions people have? Honestly, kind of.
What would be your ultimate dream job?
When I went to my parents’ for the holidays, my twelve year old cousin asked me what my “dream job” was. When I told her that I wanted to be a Development Director or VP of Development for a nonprofit, she had this horrified look on her face as if I told her I wanted to scoop dog poop all day. But honestly, that’s my dream job. I’m so serious it’s not even funny.
I talked to my old boss before he departed, and told him that I wanted to be a Development Director by the time I was twenty seven. He laughed, and then corrected me–he told me that I could easily do it before I’m twenty five (for a smaller org). So, that’s my current goal.
What exactly do you do in Development?
Pretty much every nonprofit (should) get its revenue from these buckets in development: special events, major donors, individual donors, grants/foundations, corporations. Basically, my job is to get major donors and individual donors…and they are two completely different things.
Major donors are your large-scale donors that give gifts over $5,000.
Individual donors are your usual constituents who give smaller amounts, but much more regularly. Think recurring gifts or continuous donors! These individuals are often found or mobilized through marketing and campaigns.
So, my job entails work regarding those two buckets. I handle marketing, campaign and appeal design and execution, major donor prospecting and meetings, and a whole bunch of other things.
Why nonprofit Development?
I am the type of person that has to be passionate about the work they do, and wants to do work that makes an impact. And honestly, that’s exactly what development work is. I can see the impact my work does through the programs we are able to provide our clients and the change we can instill–it’s incredibly fulfilling and makes all my hard work, absolutely worth it! It’s tireless and thankless, but so worth it.
I bet your salary is really low because you work for a nonprofit.
I make a normal salary just like the normal person. This is one of the absolute rudest misconceptions people make about working for nonprofits.
Would you ever work for-profit?
Here’s my answer: right now, I would say that answer is never. But honestly, who really knows? I’ve only worked for nonprofits in my career (except for when I was in college and worked for Campus Housing), so I only foresee myself staying in this realm…but who knows. I have thought about working in marketing (which is kind of the “for-profit” version of the work that I do), or in advancement (which is fundraising and development but for big universities), or even in development but for a hospital.
Only time will tell.
So, you do grant work?
I have experience in grants, but I do not enjoy them. I don’t do grants work, we have a grants writer for that.
Is your job easy?
No. It’s actually way more difficult than people actually think it is. It requires a lot of hard work, fast thinking, and rolling with the punches.
I’ve seen so many people leave development jobs that it’s not even funny, because of the fact that they simply cannot handle it. Developing money and resources is way harder than it looks.
Do you actually enjoy this as a career?
One hundred percent.
Do you regret not becoming a doctor/pharmacist/medical lab scientist/whatever?
Until Next Time,