Develop: a: to set forth or make clear by degrees or in detail :expound<develop a thesis>b: to make visible or manifest
2 a: to work out the possibilities of <develop an idea>b: to create or produce especially by deliberate effort over time <develop new ways of doing business>
3 a: to make active or promote the growth of <developed his muscles>b (1) : to make available or usable <develop natural resources>c: to move (as a chess piece) from the original position to one providing more opportunity for effective use
4 a: to cause to unfold gradually <developed his argument>b: to expand by a process of growth <working to develop the company further>c: to cause to grow and differentiate along lines natural to its kind <rain and sun develop the grain>5: to acquire gradually <develop an appreciation for ballet>
All the definitions for the word develop involve a process that evolves over time. It doesn’t just happen. You can’t just go out and develop a new product line or customer or donor. It’s not just poof and there it is. It takes time and effort, trial and error to come up with a good end result.
The same is true for business development, or in the nonprofit funds or donor development (or even volunteer development). You are talking about a process, not an event. Something that takes time to nurture and cultivate, whether it involves customers, donors or supporters.
Years ago I had a discussion with a for profit company that was focusing on bringing in new business. It seemed like their whole focus was on gaining new clients, and while they had other products that they could market to their established current clients, all efforts shifted to getting a new customer. No attention was given to those that had stayed loyal to this organization. As I considered this strategy, I considered it business “acquisition”, not business “development”.
The challenge with development is that it takes time. Time which people often don’t want to invest, or feel they don’t have to invest. My advice to you is that you can’t afford not to invest the time. It’s great to get a new client, new corporate sponsor or new donor. But the truth of the matter is that even if it is a big first time “order”, they won’t be returning unless you spend the time and energy to help them see the value of their investment.
My question to you is: are you just acquiring one time supporters or taking the time to develop them into loyal supporters?