Development Assistant: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Sep 14, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a development assistant. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and necessary skills to find out if this is the career for you.

A development assistant works in an organization's development department, where they are responsible for providing administrative services to staff members carrying out various fundraising and support endeavors. A bachelor's degree in a field such as public relations or communications is generally required to work as a development assistant.

Essential Information

Development assistants contribute to the vitality of an organization by assisting in the administrative tasks related to helping to bring in money from individuals or corporations. These professionals typically require a bachelor's degree in communications or a related field and strong customer service skills.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in public relations, communications or similar field
Other Requirements Strong writing and customer service relations skills, professionalism and attention to detail
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 6% for public relations specialists; 9% for fundraisers
Median Salary (2018)* $60,000 for public relations specialists; $56,950 for fundraisers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description for Development Assistants

A development assistant offers administrative support to an organization's development office, which brings in money and resources from donors to sustain growth. Development assistants handle a variety of tasks related to institutional and individual giving. Much of the day's work is spent managing relationships with current and prospective donors, bolstering membership and researching ways to bring in additional funds. This is a crucial role in many non-profit and educational groups that depend on fundraising for survival.

Additional Duties

One of the primary responsibilities of a development assistant is to track philanthropic requests, pledges and contributions. Development assistants manage and update donor databases, respond to member queries and sometimes approach benefactors for appeals. They often conduct research, analyze data and compile reports on current or prospective donors. In many offices, development assistants draft proposals or grants and may compile expense lists for budget or meetings. Other duties include managing donor lists and preparing mailing materials like invitations, solicitations and newsletters.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't provide data specifically for development assistants, it does have data for the related fields of public relations specialists and fundraisers. The BLS expected public relations specialists to see employment opportunities increase by 6% from 2018 until 2028, while employment opportunities for fundraisers may increase faster than average by 9% during the same period of time. Its May 2018 salary report showed that public relations specialists earned a median annual salary of $60,000, while fundraisers earned a median of $56,950.

Education Requirements

A bachelor's degree is usually required of candidates for this position; prospects may find it helpful to choose a major like public relations or communications. Along with a working knowledge of customer service, previous non-profit experience can be an asset. It also helps to have strong computer proficiency, especially in database management programs like Microsoft Excel.

Candidates should possess strong writing abilities and be detail-oriented. It is essential to have good interpersonal skills and maintain a level of professionalism for interacting with donors, members and volunteers. Relationship-building is also a key component of this job. Over the years, an experienced development assistant gains influential contacts in the field of giving, which they may be able to use limitlessly as their career expands.

Excellent writing and oral communication skills are essential for success as a development assistant. These professionals must also be customer-oriented and professional, as a primary responsibility of this position requires regular interaction with an organization's volunteers, members, and financial supporters.

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