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What does a Development Executive do?

By R. O'Connell
Updated May 17, 2024
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A development executive could be a position one of three different types of professional fields: film and television, for-profit business or nonprofit business. Development executive jobs are therefore widely varied in scope. Across all of these fields, development executives must display a great capacity for creative, outside-the-box thinking in order to maximize an organization's prospects. Development executives in all three fields work constantly to improve their organization through expanding to new clients, exploring new creative opportunities or developing a new market.

In the film and television industries, a development executive is in charge of finding and developing new creative material for motion-picture productions. Development executives conduct creative research by reading treatments, scripts and source material such as books or comics to come up with a working pool of ideas for production. This research can also include searching the Internet or watching television to "discover" new talent or ideas that other companies have not yet cornered. After scripts or proposals have been accepted, development executives work with creative teams to oversee revisions and create final drafts for production.

In for-profit organizations, a development executive, or business development executive, works to improve a business's capacity. The ultimate goal of business development is to help a company bring in more revenue, which is accomplished in a number of ways. Roles of business development executives include scouting new client prospects to bring in more business, developing organizational infrastructure to allow for greater client loads and creating strategic plans for expanding to new markets and types of accounts. This position relies on the cooperation of all departments, especially departments such as sales and finance that directly affect a company's bottom line. Business development executives also work closely with marketing and customer service departments to ensure that creative and effective solutions are being applied to all opportunities for economic advancement.

In nonprofits, development executives are responsible for general fundraising efforts, including grant cultivation and individual donor management. In some nonprofits, especially small community organizations, this can be a part-time or even volunteer position; in larger organizations, such as hospitals or educational institutions, a development executive can oversee a large department that includes designers, grant writers, public relations specialists and event planners. Nonprofit development can include fundraising, cause-marketing, direct mail campaigns, grant prospecting and social-media management. It also can include marketing, public relations outreach, special events and donor management.

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