In recent years, in response to pressures to diversify their income, many British universities have established development and alumni relations offices. The creation of development offices illustrates how the internal environment of universities has been affected by the need for universities to meet challenges in the wider higher education context. In this regard, conceptions of professional identity help us to understand how changes to the internal organisation of universities have affected the higher education workforce and the dynamics of relationships between universities and external stakeholders. This paper examines how the professional identities being cultivated by directors of development inform and shape philanthropic fundraising in British universities. In this way, it seeks to enhance our understanding of higher education philanthropic fundraising. The analysis also shows how studies of particular roles provide for more nuanced understandings of professional staff in higher education. Two themes of relevance to the broader study of professionals are discussed: relationships between academics and professional staff and the roles of professional managers, particularly relating to the nature of their power and influence.