Jeff and I have said many times – and I think you probably agree if you’re here reading our blog – that this major gift thing is NOT about the money.

In fact, when done well, fundraising is never about the money. Good fundraising is about helping donors fulfill their interests and passions. I know we have mentioned this many times before.

But I bring it up again because we continue to see position titles used out in the marketplace that mention the money. Titles like these:

  • Major Gift Officer
  • Development Officer
  • Advancement Officer
  • Director of Major Gifts
  • VP for Advancement
  • Director of Individual Giving
  • Etc.

All of these titles have two things in common:

1. They are organization-centered.

These titles tell outsiders what the person does INSIDE the organization – essentially, these people get the money and advance organizational stuff and get individuals to give. And…

2. They are solely about the money.

It might be better to use “Director of I Am Going To Reach Into Your Purse.” (I joke.)

Those titles make sense to use internally, because the folks inside need to know what you’re doing to advance the organization’s purposes. But externally, use something like Donor Relations Manager or Director. Or Facilitator of Donor Passions and Interests. Or any other title that focuses on donors and their desire to work out their love of others and the planet through you.

If you truly want to help your institutional or individual donor fulfill what THEY want to do through your organization, then your title should reflect that.

And it’s OK to have two titles: one for use inside the organization and one for use outside the organization.

Remember, your donor sees themself as a partner in your mission. They’re not thinking about giving “major gifts.” They’re interested in what they can accomplish through your organization. Make sure your fundraising job title speaks to that.


PS — If you’re looking for some job title suggestions, here’s what people shared in our Community Hub when this topic came up a while back. Let us know if you have anything else to add to the list!

A version of this article was originally published on July 16, 2018.