Development Officer: Job Description and Education Requirements

In the simplest terms, a development officer is a fundraiser for a college, university or private organization. However, it is a job that relies heavily on making and communicating with contacts to convey the vision of a school or department in order to solicit donations.

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Job Description for Development Officers

Development officers - sometimes known as fundraisers - are charged with helping support an organization's financial well being by soliciting and securing donations. Commonly known as 'gifts,' the money comes from donors that have been sought out by the fundraiser. After making contact, a development officer must convey the goals of their organization while explaining how a donor's contribution can help further the mission. Development officers sometimes host or attend events in order to woo funding sources, meaning they must also be willing to work long nights and weekends.

The scope of a development officer's job may be specialized if they work for a college or a university--for instance, soliciting donations for a college's engineering or mathematics department. However, fundraisers working for a smaller, private group generally handle development for every part of the organization.

In order to best present a university's or organization's ideals, a development officer must meet with students and other members of their respective departments to best determine how to serve their needs. In many cases, a fundraiser may set up meetings between a student, teacher or administrator and a potential donor to help secure funding.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that public relations and fundraising managers could expect job growth of 13% from 2012-2022, while PR specialists were expected to see a 12% increase in job openings over that same decade. Public relations and fundraising managers earned a median salary of $98,700 as of May 2013, according to the BLS, while specialists made a median of $54,940.

Education Requirements

In many instances, a bachelor's degree is all that is required to become a development officer; however, some employers prefer that a job applicant have a master's degree. While there is no degree specifically tailored toward a career as a fundraiser or development officer, a master's degree in education could be helpful for anyone preparing to work at a university. Other useful degrees may touch upon business, finance and public relations.

Other Relevant Skills

Because a development officer is often seen as the face of an organization, it is imperative that this individual has strong written and verbal communication skills as well as an ability to relate well with other people. Many times, employers prefer applicants who have experience with a particular discipline. As an example, a development officer charged with soliciting donations for a business school should have experience in a business or corporate setting.

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