Why fundraiser job titles suck and cost you a lot of money!
My pal Dr. Russell James is at it again.
This time, he researched what fundraiser job titles inspire more engagement, connectivity, and giving. According to James, “This study tests the impact of various fundraiser job titles on others’ willingness to contact the fundraiser to engage in giving-related discussions.”
What did he find?
Well, although it’s safe to say that many of us love our job titles, Dr. James uncovered some reasons to believe that, perhaps, we shouldn’t love them so much.
After presenting these fundraiser job titles to people, he asked them, “Who at the charity are you more likely to contact?” The title that performed worst out of 63 tested was Director of Advancement! Tweet this! Also among the bottom 10 worst performers included:
- Chief Advancement Officer
- Director of Institutional Advancement
- Chief Institutional Advancement Officer
Swapping out the word advancement for development did little to improve the results. In fact, adding the words advancement or development to any title resulted in low-performance results.
The problem is that most fundraiser job titles tend to fall into one of three categories: institution focused, gift focused, or donor focused. But they rarely describe what benefits the donors will receive. For more on this, you might want to check out my post about stinky fundraiser titles and my suggested improved titles (focused on donor benefits).
Anyway, Dr. James did find that some narrow, gift-focused titles performed a little better. But overall the best performing titles were donor-centered focusing on the advisory role the fundraiser plays while making sure the title doesn’t go too far in suggesting that the fundraiser is neutral. After all, the fundraiser does work for the institution.
For instance, the following gift/advisor-oriented titles performed better than the traditional institution-centered ones:
- Chief Individual Giving Officer
- Chief Special Gifts Officer
- Director of Major Gifts
You can get the entire abstract here on Wiley’s website for a small fee.
What’s MarketSmart’s take on all this?: I don’t like these titles and I think they cost nonprofits money! I think more titles need to be tested. And, of course, I like the new, innovative titles I created! Check ’em out here.
What do you think?