Alphabet Soup of Fundraising Titles
What is our job as fundraising professionals? Relationship builders? Storytellers? Ambassadors? I love all three of these descriptors, and we use them often.
What confuses me is the myriad of titles and structures that we put in place that can serve as barriers in empowering donors to make a life-changing difference.
My role might be to focus on major gifts, but does it really deepen a relationship to call me a major-gifts officer —or even more confusing, a director of special gifts or principal gifts? What does this mean to a donor or prospective donor? And what signals does it send — intended or otherwise?
If as a donor I am transferred to dealing with a planned-gift officer, does this mean that my time is near? Does the organization know something I don't know?
One YMCA recently repositioned regional development officers who provided fundraising consulting and leadership to several branches, and began calling them major-gift officers. Does that mean that they — and not a Y branch director - will now be major-gift focused? Is this appropriate for the organization's culture? The change of titles made no difference in the funds raised.
Sometimes it seems organizations change titles thinking that it infers progress or action — or that they are current with the latest fundraising trends.
Let's keep focused on doing what we are called to do — raise significant funds for worthy causes and organizations that change and save lives. And let's not worry about an alphabet soup of titles, but remember always to look at things through the eyes of our donors.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.