“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare
So what, it’s just a name, right?
It’s impossible to imagine an organizational world without names, the titles of our jobs define us. They say so much about who we are, our organizational culture, the division of labour and the hierarchies we inhabit. So what does your name, the title you have in your organization, say about you and your job? More importantly what do those names tell the people you serve?
At a conference last year, I spoke with a colleague who told me that he was the director of major gifts for a large foundation. It’s a common enough title, it gave me a clear idea of his specialist area of work and I could easily place him within the work of his organization. And for those of us who are professional fundraisers there’s a host of similar names – director or manager etc. of annual giving, planned giving or corporate giving.
My colleague at the conference surprised me by saying that he thought his title was a headache; it was an impediment to developing proper relationships with his donors. To him, that title helped to define the donor as an object, not a person who wants to join you in supporting the work of the organization, but someone who is capable of making (or repeating) a donation that qualifies as a major gift. In other words an individual who, as far as you and your organization is concerned, appears to be solely defined by their monetary value to you. So rather than the relationship being about the value a donor might place in being associated with your mission, for you it’s just about the money.
I think that these labels are important. And we can get away from this quite easily. If your role in the organization is about the promotion of the mission through philanthropy, then let’s tell it like it is, i.e. Director/ Manager of Philanthropy/ Philanthropic Relationships. For internal purposes in your organization you can be known as a staff member who is accountable for a certain revenue stream e.g. major financial philanthropic contributions from corporate partners; but in the end it’s about developing meaningful connections to the important work of your organization, not just “show me the money”.
Sorry Bill, what’s in a name, that job title, you are way off: in the world of philanthropy and fundraising, your name (aka your title) speaks volumes.
….and the beat goes on….