The Importance of Hiring a Development Professional | Sharpe Group
Posted November 7th, 2022

The Importance of Hiring a Development Professional

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.” -Red Adair

Red Adair was arguably the most effective petroleum firefighter of all time. When there was a critical job that had to be successful the first time, Red Adair’s teams got the call. Failure was simply not an option. No one ever complained about his cost because the benefits his teams delivered made the difference between success and failure.

Most nonprofits rely on a successful development program. Depending on who you talk to, the average nonprofit development officer tenure is between 16 and 24 months. Ask yourself this:

  • Are we hiring the wrong people or is it something else?
  • Is competence or training the issue?
  • Does management have unrealistic expectations?
  • What does it cost to onboard, train and then lose your development officers?
  • Why does this keep happening?

Winds of change

Economic headwinds and COVID have impacted the efficacy of our development programming. The result is increased pressure on our development teams and our mission. A professional development officer can make a meaningful impact on your program’s overall health and effectiveness. An amateur can cause disastrous consequences. How do you identify and hire the right professional development team member? What is the cost of failure? What about the investment in relationship building with your donors that evaporates when development officers leave?

Sometimes, the best candidates can fail through no fault of their own. An ideal candidate not aligned with the existing team will likely result in a poor outcome. This illustrates the value of understanding your existing team’s strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the makeup of your entire team can be equally important to your success.

A new tool for your toolbox

The hiring toolbox today has expanded to include many new platforms: Indeed, LinkedIn and ZipRecruiter, to name a few. It is not enough to hope you get the right applicants. Sharpe has introduced a new cost-effective, all-inclusive hiring platform tool designed to deliver the ideal candidates to your team—candidates who reflect the qualities that reflect the profile of the top 10% performers in the development officer role. Additionally, your Sharpe consultant can provide state-of-the-art assessment tools to reveal insights about your current team members as well.

For over 60 years, Sharpe has been providing innovative strategies for nonprofits across America. Let Sharpe help you find the ideal professional development officer for your unique team. ■

Eric Eilertsen
Sharpe Group President & CEO


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The publisher of Sharpe Insights is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Sharpe Insights may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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