If your organization is thinking about hiring a development professional for the first time, whether a staff person or a consultant, DON'T do it if the following are true!
(That may sound strange coming from someone who makes a very modest living raising money professionally, but stick with me here.)
1. You needed the money yesterday. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you do NOT want to hire someone dedicated to fundraising when you're desperate. The new person will not have the time to develop the relationships, won't be able to secure sustainable gifts, and either will end up raising less than you could alone, or will create a situation that will eventually blow up or burn out.
2. You don't have anyone else who's willing to participate in fundraising activities. Development professionals are there to structure the program, provide expertise, execute the support functions for the development process, and ultimately, to make the sure the fundraising strategies are actually producing money. This does not mean that the development staff person does EVERYTHING. The head of the organization and the head of the board, at minimum, need to participate.
3. You aren't willing to give the development professional some autonomy. No donor wants to hear, "I need to check with my supervisor." Provide structure, but then be willing to give some degree of authority.
4. You aren't ready to enforce accountability. On the flip side, you will need to monitor what's going on. This person is out in the community selling your organization's reputation and you need to know that he or she is saying the right thing and promising things you can deliver. You can't be totally hands off no matter who you hire.
5. You're not clear what you want the person to do. Be certain about the person's job description. Don't throw in everything that you don't have time to do. Furthermore, once you've determined scope of work for this position, do not let others try to do the job too, even if they used to be responsible for the task.
6. You aren't in a position to invest in this position long-term. Fundraising is about relationship development. That does not happen overnight. If you do not have the resources to keep this position in place for at least three years, re-evaluate. It will take 2-3 years for a new development program to take hold.
You want to provide the greatest chance for success for any new staff person, and a development staff person is no different. Create an environment for success and your investment will return many rewards.