Creating A Workforce Development Ladder At Your Nonprofit 

900 500 Gabby Wallin

As your organization grows, positions will multiply. There are usually opportunities to help your employees and volunteers to develop new knowledge and skills that are needed to take on more responsibility as you grow and add new positions.  

 A career ladder for development may start with an entry-level position as a data entry clerk. Then, this position may lead to multiple career paths. It could be a database manager, event assistant, event manager, and then director of events or director of strategic partnerships, and then director of development that would lead the entire department. Alternatively, that same data-entry clerk position could lead to other career paths. They could move from data entry to a donor relations associate, major gifts officer, and then to a chief advancement officer.  

 There are other pathways that individuals could take as well. This is dependent on how big your development department gets during this individual’s tenure with the organization. Try not to define the pathway in one direction. Give the individual the opportunity to grow based on their individual skillsets, and the talents that they possess that are innate.  

 Another thing to consider is having more than one career track for advancement. For example, some people are never going to become managers, and if they do, they shouldn’t have. This is because some people do not have the skillset to be managers, or they really do not like to manage others. These individuals go for the management positions anyway because it is the only way to advance their career, make more money, gain responsibilities, and to get the prestige that comes with working in a position at a higher level. 

 Nonprofits can set up multiple tracks that allow people with various skillsets to advance to positions at higher levels of pay, benefits, and prestige that equal those of managers. However, these positions may not require that individual managing others. For example, a director of program development works alongside the director of program administration. One position, the director of program administration, may manage many people. The director of program development may be a solo worker and have an assistant. They could use their technical skills at a very high level, knowledge expertise, and no management responsibilities. They are excellent in their technical position, and do not have to have the skills required to be an efficient manager. They simply have a different skillset, and this skillset is still acknowledged and utilized by the organization this way.  

 It’s important to create opportunities for your employees to move up the ladder and contribute even more to your organization.