Nonprofit Executive Search Services

In a competitive market for talent, recruiting leaders who will effect positive change requires a nonprofit executive search process that is strategic in its orientation, rooted in deep sector knowledge, and attuned to organizational dynamics, changing industry needs, and chemistry. What opportunities can your new hire create? How will they address the complex challenges facing nonprofits of all types? Will they bring new thinking to discussions?

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How can we help you?

For 45 years, Development Guild DDI has partnered with nonprofit organizations nationwide to achieve their most ambitious goals. Whether you need new talent, fundraising or campaign solutions, or strategic counsel, we can help.

Interested in becoming a candidate?

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Individual professionals and collective teams can advance both your organization’s mission and its leadership within the field. This is particularly true for organizations seeking eminently qualified and talented candidates in fundraising, finance, communications, and other specialized areas who may not be actively in the job market. At a time when data, metrics, and technology are constantly advancing the way nonprofit professionals work, finding talent that offers both strategic breadth and technical depth can play a critical role in future organizational success.

As a Development Guild client, you benefit from our strong relationships with a wide array of nonprofit professionals and our rigorous, fair, and transparent approach to executive search, which includes the following steps:


Each nonprofit executive search engagement begins with a focused, strategic assessment. We take a deep dive to understand your opportunity by asking questions specific to your organization and field, testing assumptions, and recommending options for your consideration. The outcome? A customized executive search process that presents you and candidates with a fully developed opportunity while ensuring internal alignment at every step of the way.


Executive Recruitment

To find you the best candidates, we conduct in-depth research, which includes mining our extensive network of deep and constantly expanding relationships, reaching out to engage new talent, and utilizing targeted and tested promotional strategies. You will gain a deeper understanding of candidate trends and interests as we report back from the wide array of professionals we engage. This results in a pool of highly qualified talent with diverse perspectives and experiences (learn more about our commitment to DEI), from which you will choose.



The candidates you interview will not only demonstrate requisite skills and experience, but also possess the ability to articulate the opportunities and challenges that your organization faces. This includes detailing their leadership philosophy and past strategy success to their expertise in leveraging data and building teams. You will be thoroughly briefed on the strengths of each candidate, opportunities for growth, and special considerations to further explore.



You choose the finalist candidate. We facilitate a fair decision-making process, conduct reference checks, help craft a compelling offer, and assist with negotiations.

At Development Guild, we conduct executive searches for an array of sectors. This means we cultivate relationships that keep our finger on the pulse of multiple industries, which enables us to anticipate and respond to marketplace dynamics and trends, recognize when and how that market is shifting, adjust our executive search process accordingly, and locate highly qualified candidates who may not be contemplating a career change. We talk to candidates from multiple sectors even when we are not recruiting them for a role to understand labor market dynamics and candidate priorities. Whether your nonprofit is seeking a C-Suite leader, such as a CEO, CFO, or Chief Development Officer, or a senior function professional, such as a Vice President of Advancement or Director of Communications, the end result is a powerful connection between your extraordinary organization and an exceptional leader, who achieves a lasting, positive impact.

I could not have asked for a better experience with partnering with Development Guild. Their consultants were phenomenal in assessing what the Foundation truly needed in a new Chief Financial Officer and understanding the challenges and opportunities we were facing. The advice they provided was fair, generous, and enlightening. The candidate pool was exceptional. When we announced our selection, it invigorated our entire community. I am so grateful for Development Guild’s work and look forward to our continued partnership.

- Dee Dee Mozeleski, Executive Director, Foundation for City College

I have retained Development Guild to recruit key staff positions for successful campaigns at three different academic medical institutions. For each engagement, we could count on their understanding of complex systems, creativity, ability to accurately assess candidates, and unwavering commitment to successful outcomes. My long-standing relationship with Development Guild has been the primary reason why we continue to engage them. They know our needs and the characteristics of the employee who will be successful within our system. The insights that Development Guild provide are unique in the field and in part this is a result of their search services being deeply informed by their fundraising practice, but I believe it also has to do with the continuity and dedication of their senior leadership.

- Mark Kostegan, Senior Vice President of Development

I have worked with many search firms in the past and my recent experience with Development Guild far surpassed all previous engagements. DG sets a high benchmark for excellence. The Huntington needed to expedite the search, and Development Guild delivered, presenting a strong slate in record time while keeping us on track, not cutting corners, dedicating resources, and creatively seeking a good fit.  They were responsive to the unique qualities we envisioned in a successful hire and made constructive adjustments along the way to ensure those needs were met. The weekly check-ins were extremely productive, guided by well-prepared agendas and positivity. Ultimately the candidate we hired aligned perfectly with our needs and exceeded expectations. I am extremely grateful for DG’s superb instincts, sound guidance, diligent persistence, and sincere partnership.

- Elisabeth Saxe, Chief Development Officer

Finding the right person to be the Director of the Nobles Fund was extremely important to us. Development Guild recognized how critical the search was and provided a steady and patient approach to the process. Not only did their consultants deliver a strong and diverse pool of candidates, they also helped guide our team in fairly assessing them and reaching internal alignment. It was incredibly well managed from start to finish.

- George Maley, Chief Advancement Officer


What is the difference between a retained executive search firm and a contingency search firm?

The main difference between a retained executive search firm and a contingency search firm is when the firm is paid. A contingency search firm is paid only if and when their client hires a candidate that the firm presents. On the other hand, a retained search firm is paid by the client whether or not one of their presented candidates is hired. Retained search firms often take a proactive approach to recruitment, focusing on candidates who may not be actively searching for a career change, but who possess the right skills and experience. This includes conducting executive director search services for your nonprofit organization.

Development Guild falls under the category of a retained executive search firm, specializing in executive searches in the nonprofit sector. While a contingency search firm may be motivated to provide a slew of candidates just to ensure that they do not miss out on their fee, Development Guild will always put the needs of your organization above all else to make sure that we are able to find people with the skills, knowledge and drive to help take your nonprofit to the next level.

How long does a nonprofit executive search process take?

The timeline for a nonprofit executive search will vary based on the level of the position and between organizations. When it comes to our fundraising and function searches, we strive to present our clients with a qualified slate of candidates to interview within 4-6 weeks. For C-suite level searches, the executive search process can take slightly longer. 

How much do nonprofit executive search services cost?

The answer to this question will always depend on the type of nonprofit executive search services and the size and complexity of the engagement. Please feel free to contact our expert team of professionals at Development Guild for an accurate quotation on our services. 

What are the benefits of engaging a nonprofit executive search firm?

There are many benefits to hiring a nonprofit executive search firm to help you find the talented leaders that are a perfect match for your organization’s mission and vision. Some of which include:

  • Saving time and resources — The most effective executive search processes are thorough, and your HR department may not have the time or resources to carry out an executive search without additional, professional help. By engaging the nonprofit executive search services of Development Guild, we can partner with your HR department and leadership to ensure the executive search process is efficient, effective, and leverages everyone’s time and resources.
  • Streamlining the discovery and selection process — At Development Guild, we specialize in nonprofit executive searches. As a professional nonprofit consulting firm, we have made the executive search process as thorough and streamlined as possible — and are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve it. Once we have completed our assessment of your organization and have researched the potential candidates, all you need to do is select the right person for the job.
  • Discovering candidates you may not have considered — We have many contacts across the country in a wide range of sectors. Our extensive list of contacts allows us to draw on our professional relationships to discover the perfect candidates, including those who are not actively in the job market but whose profile closely matches the criteria set by our clients. Recruiting these candidates requires a different level of cultivation. We take the time to deeply engage them so they can fully appreciate the opportunity being presented to them and how it may grow their career. The result of this approach is a pool of highly qualified applicants who might not otherwise be available to the prospective employer.

Where do your candidates come from?

A longtime leader in nonprofit executive search, Development Guild and its team maintain a wide array of relationships with leading professionals from multiple sectors.  Because of the care we take to cultivate potential candidates throughout the search process (include post-search interviews with successful candidates), we foster trusting relationships. We build on these networks for current information on available talent and strategies for identifying additional candidates.