September 28, 2022

Do You Have the Right Development Director? Take this Quiz

Have you ever hired the “perfect” development director only to be disappointed? The individual looked good on paper and interviewed well—yet they failed to meet your expectations on the job.

How can you avoid this problem in the future?

Understand that development directors fail for three common reasons. Two reasons are internal to the nonprofit and need correction. The third involves hiring well or supporting current staff. This quiz focuses on the last issue.

This quiz consists of eight questions to explore the candidate’s or current staff’s skills and talents.  Share the questions with the person and ask them to rank themselves and discuss their answers.

Rank the individual (or yourself) on a one to four scale, where four is high.

The Quiz ✍️

Does the individual:

1.    Genuinely like people? Are they comfortable with individuals even when they drone on or reveal annoying-to-most-people quirks?

2.    Demonstrate outstanding relationship management skills? For instance, do they keep promises, organize interactions, and otherwise take the onus of moving relationships forward?

3.    Like to educate donors about how contributions to your nonprofit can make the change the giver seeks? Do they construct investment options for donors that create a win-win for the donor and nonprofit?

4.    Focus on the relationships between the donor and the nonprofit instead of the donors and themselves?

5.    Discern and reduce their time investment after a reasonable period if they discover that a prospect just likes to be courted?

6.    Close gifts? Many great “people people” don’t make good development staff because they lack this skill.

7.    Help leaders, especially the CEO and Board, to improve their development skills and enhance their philanthropy?

8.    Possess impeccable ethics? For example, individuals with perfect ethics face temptations to tell “little white lies” to close gifts, but they refrain from the practice.

🚦 Warning: Not every candidate or staff member needs to be a “four” on all the characteristics and skills to succeed. You want your development director to rank high on innate traits (1, 6) and, at a minimum, be working on the other skills. [1]


Rank the individual (or yourself) on a one to four scale, where four is high.

👉  If you add the scores together and divide by eight, you will have a score akin to a college grade point average, allowing you to compare candidates.

👏 Note: Thanks to CEO participants in Karen’s Conversation on Hiring and Retaining Development Staff for weighing and identifying the essence of the development director role, something few job descriptions or interviews capture.

[1] 🛠️ Skill-based questions: 2, 4, 5, 7.

🎂 Innate: 1, 6.

🛠️ and 🎂: A Mixture of Innate and Skills: 3-liking to teach is innate, doing it well is skill-based, 8-embracing good ethics, if not innate, is forged through a lifetime experience, identifying ethical issues is partially skill-based


For more fundraising resources, check out these revenue development videos and posts. Need more help? It’s super easy to connect with Karen for a mini-consult or more. Click here to email or here to chat.

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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