What’s in a name:
do job titles matter?

For our recruitment services, we have come across numerous job descriptions for vacancies. Each vacancy is accompanied with a carefully thought-out job title in the hope to attract the right talent for the job. It is a tricky task – if a job title is too vague or too rigid, it may scare off talents that would otherwise be an outstanding match for your organization. In this post, we’ll discuss some common titles for fundraising professionals and how a job title might affect the chances of you finding your perfect candidate.

Job title is a tricky task – if it is too vague or too rigid, it may scare off talents that would otherwise be an outstanding match for your organization.

capacity

Job responsibilities vs job titles

Many organizations would like to communicate very plainly and specifically on job responsibilities in the in the job title itself. This can be very helpful for talents as they can know, at a glance, what their future employer wants them to focus on, for example, corporate fundraising, institutional donors, or major gifts. Subsequently, they can foresee their central contributions to the team, e.g. writing funding proposals, maintaining existing relations with donors, or managing a team of fundraisers.

However, when we did a tally in our database, we found that there are a lot of different job titles for quite similar positions in fundraising. For example, a ‘donor engagement manager’, an ‘institutional donor manager’, and an ‘advisor donor partnerships’ might in practice do the same work: building and maintaining relationships with institutional donors and developing and managing appealing proposals. Likewise, a ‘business development officer’, a ‘corporate relationship manager’, and a ‘corporate partnerships lead’ all effectively build and strengthen corporate relations to attract new funding. While it may be true that these different titles have unique functions to the organization, it is more likely that these names were a carry-over from past titles without further consideration for current job market and / or job responsibilities.

job-search

The diversity of job titles

Another interesting observation we notice is the variance of job titles from country to country. In the Netherlands, fundraising professionals are more likely to be called ‘managers’, while in the UK, people with the same job description are generally called ‘officers’. And in the US, there is an even more diverse mix of ‘specialists’, ‘leads’ and ‘managers’. Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and a lot of team members come from different parts of the world. We would argue that a clarification in these distinctions is crucial to avoid putting off potential candidates and to ensure the best potential applicants for your team.

A clarification in job title distinctions is crucial to avoid putting off potential candidates and to ensure the best potential applicants for your team.

Job-responsibilities

Strive for clarity

To tackle these problems, we advise our clients to actively focus on clarity when they decide on a job title. Unambiguous job titles are important because they define the responsibilities of the position and avoid alienating people that are not (yet) familiar with specific terminology. From the perspective of a recruiter: the combination of a sub-field (e.g., ‘corporate’) and an accurate description of job activities (e.g., ‘partnership developer’) works best.

What job title for fundraiser have you had before?
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Viviane Hamas

As an expert in sustainable development and intercultural communication, Viviane helps organizations find the funding opportunities and the capacities they need, to create the impact they envision.

Rick ten Holder

Rick is always on the lookout for opportunities to improve existing processes and methods. With a positive-critical attitude and an eye for the bigger picture, he loves to help organizations think about how they can achieve their goals.

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