Life in the Development Ecosystem: What Transitions Look Like

In 2013, CompassPoint/Haas Foundation’s UnderDeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising was released — based on nearly 3,000 interviews of senior development officers and executive directors — describing a vicious cycle that threatens the effectiveness of fundraising efforts for nonprofits.  The study’s holistic view of development operations examines all of the factors that contribute to or limit the effectiveness of sustainable fundraising success. The senior development role emerges as the canary-in-the-mine for an often dysfunctional organizational system; high levels of turnover and lengthy vacancies in development director positions are the norm in our field.

Using the CompassPoint study as a context, along with data collected from an AMDA version of the CompassPoint survey, this session will highlight the challenges of our work in institutional advancement, with a special focus on the navigating professional transitions that are a defining feature of development life. This panel discussion will feature eight AMDA veterans, with some 300+ combined years of development experience, offering up their reflections on the transitions in their careers.

Panel: Led by Martin Duus, Vice President for Development, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York; Sandy Chamberlain, Retired Deputy Director for External Affairs, Phoenix Art Museum; Katharine DeShaw, Deputy Director, Advancement and External Relations, Academy Museum of Motion Pictures; Nina McN. Diefenbach, Senior Vice President and Deputy Director for Advancement, The Barnes Foundation; John Easley, Chief Advancement Officer, The Cleveland Museum of Art; James Hackney, Senior Director of Development, Yale Divinity School; Colleen Kelly, Senior Director, Advancement and Communications, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum; Christine O’Neill Singer, Consulting Vice President, Grenzebach, Glier & Associates