What Do You Call The Staff Person-In-Charge of Fundraising?

Sections of this topic

    (This is a follow-up piece to the posting What Do You Call The Staff Person In Charge of Raising Charitable Contributions?)

    The title question is often asked by new and fairly young nonprofit organizations; and, depending on the age, size, mission, location, etc. of the organization, there can be many different answers.

    As noted previously, the simple answer to the question is that “the staff person must have a title that is comfortable for (prospective) donors, unpretentious, (moderately) descriptive, appropriate for the organization’s age, size, etc., and satisfying to the Staff Person.”

    So, where do you start ??

    The first distinction that should be made is whether the staff person (1) is responsible for raising the needed funds or (2) is responsible for seeing that the money is raised !!

    (1) Sadly, too many nonprofits are going the route of having staff members being the fundraisers. It’s sad for a number of reasons (see my discussion and posting next week), but people with that role aren’t directing or managing fundraising, they’re doing it.

    They may be Donor Relations Officers, Major Gift Officers, or Constituent Relations Officers. The first two options suggest that “I we’re only dealing with you to get your money,” and the latter suggests that “I/we care about you and want to develop a real relationship.”

    I would suggest that a “Major Gifts Officer” would not be appropriate for a new and young organization … for the most part, because those nonprofits don’t understand what a major gift is, and what is entailed in the process. (See: What is A Major Gift?)

    (2) Staff members who manage and work with volunteers (including board members), where it is the volunteers who are actually doing the fundraising, have titles that could include “Manager” or “Director.”

    These people should be planning the various aspects of the development program, overseeing and tweaking its implementation, and evaluating the previous years’ performance.

    Their title should be specific, based on their areas of focus and expertise.

    A Director of Special Events should have the experience and expertise to be able to work with volunteers to make an event special and successful.

    Other titles, assuming the appropriate experience or expertise could be: Director of Foundation Relations, Director of Government Relations, Director of Corporate Relations; and, the person with the broad experience, and expertise to supervise and coordinate all aspects of the development program – the Director of Development.

    A development officer, who is the only person in the development office, who just works with fundraising events and/or writes foundation proposals cannot be a Director of Development !!

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