Finding the right Development Director and supporting them in their role is critical to the success of your development strategy

We are philanthropy and communications specialists with proven track records in school development and fundraising. We understand schools; all of our senior advisors have been members of school senior leadership teams.

We know what to look for in a Development Director. As professional fundraisers we read behind CVs to ascertain who has the right skills to deliver what is required in any given role. We are deeply embedded in the sector. Our knowledge enables us to identify those who are leading the way in their field and those who are trailing around the edges.

We understand the loneliness of the Development Director role and recognise that one individual cannot be expert in all things. We believe in allowing leaders to be vulnerable so they can be given the right support and resources to optimise performance. Team members trust us, feel comfortable with us and recognise the value we bring.

Please contact Heather Styche-Patel, Head of Strategy, Marketing & Development, at

Mentoring & training

It is rare for fundraising staff to benefit from the opportunities for informal mentoring common amongst teaching staff. Often there is no one else in the school from whom they can learn. The scope for personal development can be limiting and the isolation sometimes debilitating.

We understand what team members need to really fly. We act as a critical friend. We provide ongoing support over challenging periods. We deliver game-changing training.

We support a surprisingly wide range of individuals through our mentoring and training services:

  • Junior team members: mentoring bright graduates as they learn the ropes. Often, this can be a more cost-effective solution than appointing an expensive Development Director
  • Development Directors: helping Directors who know their craft with some of the trickier aspects, such as managing upwards with the Chair or Head, or helping navigate the demands of institutional change
  • Heads: upskilling Heads for the unchartered territory of fundraising – ensuring the focus of line management stays on strategy not on event seating plans; equipping them with the skills and judgement for the multimillion pound moments of ‘the ask’
  • Boards: furnishing board members with the know-how to support the fundraising endeavour

Development Director appraisals

Why appoint an external appraiser for your Development Director?

The most obvious rationale behind external appraisers for Development Directors is that Heads have rarely been a Development Director themselves. As such, they often lack the knowledge to assess performance fairly or fully, and there can be a tendency to measure the wrong things. Hence the increasingly common practice of external appraisers.

External appraisal also allows Development Directors to show their vulnerability in a way that is not always possible within a line-management scenario. In allowing Development Directors to be more open about their challenges, their performance can be optimised and developed in a way it might not otherwise be.

Our approach to leadership appraisals draws on best practice from within the education and commercial sectors. As well as collating and analysing feedback from key stakeholders, an appraisal can cover:

  • Guidance on monitoring, evaluating and setting objectives – both short-term targets and milestones on the road to longer-term aims
  • Professional development support
  • A wider view of leadership – reviewing how the appraisee is working with the Senior Leadership Team and Governors
  • An understanding of the challenges ahead and suggestions for personal leadership development


"The RSAcademics team provided the most exceptional service as we sought to appoint to the newly created post, Foundation Director. Our consultant’s enviable expertise in this area was invaluable and she provided measured and insightful advice throughout. The team immediately understood the brief and seemed genuinely excited by the opportunity to work with us on the project which brought a real sense of energy to the appointment. We were delighted with the field of candidates which was talented and broad in range and we happily made a strong appointment, aided to the very end by our consultant. I couldn’t recommend the RSAcademics team more strongly."

Louise Moelwyn-Hughes, Master, Marlborough College

Get in touch

Email Heather Styche-Patel, Head of Strategy, Marketing & Development, at

Call Heather on +44 (0)1858 383173