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Building your camp's future: how to hire a development director.

Hiring a development director is sort of like ordering a pair of shoes. Each development director has his or her own style. Find the proper fit between development director and camp, and success will follow.

Development is an evolving process that can include marketing, public relations, fund raising, grant writing, alumni relations (campers, staff, parents), special events, publications, administration, and in some instances, camper recruitment and retention.

Both non-profit and for-profit camps can benefit from a comprehensive, collaborative development effort. But camp directors may wonder whether they need to have a development director on staff. For instance, some non-profit camps might be able to tap into the services of a development professional working for their parent organization. Furthermore, if a camp is planning a one-time-only fund-raising campaign, it may not require a full-time development professional. (See "Fund Raising in Tough Times" on page 25 and "Alumni Cultivation" on page 28 for more ideas on fund raising.)

As a rule of thumb, it is appropriate for a camp to look for a development director when new or additional fund raising objectives are established and the dollar amount to be raised exceeds the development director's offered annual salary by three times.

It's important to note that in many cases the development process can take two to three years -- depending on the organization's objectives. For some camps, a more realistic goal would be raising the development director's annual salary in new dollars the first year of employment.

Where to Begin

An organization on its deathbed has waited too long to hire a development director. The development process begins with a clear understanding of the camp's mission, expressed in some form of a long range plan. The camp's chief administrative officer (CAO), board, staff and volunteers all play a critical role in defining and accepting this mission.

Before the development director is hired, the joint role of the CAO and the development director needs to be established. A development director cannot be expected to be the "savior" for a fledgling camp. It is the job of the development director, in collaboration with the CAO, to actualize the camp's mission and achieve the goals of the organization through planned development efforts.

It may come as a surprise to some, but a camp's development program can only be accomplished with an effective and active CAO. In essence, the CAO is indeed the master development officer of any organization. The good fit of CAO and development director produces a long-standing, successful development program.

Responsibilities included in the development director's job description determine whether a camp will look for an out-front director or a behind-the-scenes personality. Before beginning the hiring process, all expectations of the development director need to be made known to all constituencies. Again, compatibility is the key. Development is a process of friend-making that leads to fun-making and finally to fund-making.

The CAO needs to determine the specifics of the job and communicate these expectations to all constituencies. Regardless of the specific job duties, in this author's experience, the qualities an effective development director should possess include:

* above average oral and written communication skills;

* strong organizational skills (ability to do five to ten

projects at the same time);

* planning and time management skills and ability to

delegate;

* computer literacy;

* strong motivation and self-starting skills;

* puzzle-person skills, (e.g. likes researching the missing

pieces and putting them together);

* problem solving and objective thinking skills;

* adaptability and unflappability;

* personal commitment to philanthropy.

The Search

Finding a development director is a process, too. A search for the development position begins in-house for many organizations. This approach can be effective, because most "insiders" know that the position is becoming a reality. Even if the organization chooses not to interview from within, the "insiders" can be an effective advertising team. Who can better spread the word, explaining the camp's mission and eliciting support? A word of caution: Some research has shown that organizations face fewer difficulties when first establishing a development program if they don't hire from within.

A search outside the camp for a development director should begin with a wide range of contacts, including parents, alumni, the media and employment resources. Community contacts might include related professional placement services, newsletters, and local organizations such as Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis and colleges. The search committee can interview other camps that have development programs in place, to find how they secured their development directors. Similar organizations can be interviewed for assistance with job descriptions and job and salary expectations. The development profession is a "people helping people" profession; assistance is not hard to find.

Meeting Goals

And now to keep that development director! Unfortunately, 18 months to two years is the average length of time development directors stay in one position. However, it is costly and discouraging to a camp to replace a key administrator every year or two. So how can a camp be "out of the norm" and keep its development director beyond two years?

Especially for a newly created position, the CAO must wholeheartedly support this endeavor. Remember the importance of a good fit between the CAO and development director. Equally important, employee benefits should be those given to any professional.

The CAO needs to be direct and honest with feedback, and he or she needs to respond in a timely manner with this new employee. A performance appraisal should be conducted after six weeks. At this same time, the new employee should review his or her expectations and report on progress made. Together, the development director and CAO should set short-term goals for the next three to six months.

After six months, another progress review should be conducted and the job description once again examined. Are there items to add or delete? At one year a full performance appraisal should be conducted. The performance appraisal should center on the mission and the long range goals of the camp.

The development profession is a gift. There is no other profession in the world that relies as much on positive thinking and the ability to help people realize their dreams. With a successful fit, a development director can build success into your camp's future.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Camping Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Focus on Fund Raising
Author:Merriman, Suzanne G.
Publication:Camping Magazine
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:1025
Previous Article:American Camping Association strategic plan: 1993-1996.
Next Article:Fund raising in tough times.
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