Competencies of the modern CDO

The chief responsibility of a chief development officer (CDO) is, well, development. Having gotten past that hurdle, what does development mean?

During the 2014 Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) International Conference, Mark Kostigan, chief development officer of Mount Sinai Health System, and Ron Schiller, founding partner of Aspen Leadership Group, offered both a definition of a CDO and a look at the abilities and responsibilities associated with the job.

They gave the following definition of a CDO: The institution’s most senior administrative officer whose primary responsibility is fundraising. The most common titles include senior vice president, vice president, executive director or director of development, advancement, institutional advancement of external relations.

That said, they added that today’s position of CDO requires the following on the part of the individual:

  • Engagement with every part of the organization;
  • Engagement with the boss’s bosses;
  • An opportunity to serve as a strategic thought partner;
  • “Marriage” because changes in the role of the chief executive officer (CEO) role have made excellent chemistry essential, for both CEO and CDO;
  • Trusted partner (or liability);
  • Relationship-builder-in-chief;
  • Shaper of culture: philanthropic partnership;
  • Strategist and planner;
  • Governance expert and trusted advisor on board matters;
  • Trusted thought partner and sounding board;
  • Flag bearer;
  • Visionary and confident sight-raiser;
  • Talent magnet and builder of winning teams; and,
  • Mentor to future CDOs.