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Nonprofit Job Titles are Confusing

Nonprofit job titles are idiosyncratic and confusing. And sometimes, even misleading. Take for instance, the following:

· Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

· President

· President & CEO

· Executive Director

These are all different titles for the same job. And, being titled as President & CEO of a nonprofit is a misnomer. The head of a nonprofit organization reports to a Board of Directors, not to stockholders. A nonprofit is classified as a C Corp—hence the (c) in 501(c)(3).

This one that always galls me is:

· Founder & Chief Executive Officer

That just smacks of founder’s syndrome. What’s founder’s syndrome, you may ask. Founder’s syndrome is when an organization is stuck in a decades-long rut because the person who came up with the idea of the organization refuses to change, retire, move on, and let go. Organizations suffering from founder’s syndrome usually have no succession plan in place. If the “Founder and CEO” suddenly keels over unexpectedly, the entire organization may shut down. The board of such an organization is usually a “rubber stamp” committee, never questioning decisions, giving the OK to every whim, and often isn’t term limited, allowing them to stay for years. It’s a recipe for stagnation.

Rant over. Let’s talk about some other nonprofit job titles, specifically those related to development. There’s a baker’s dozen of these—if not more.

· Director of Philanthropy

· Vice President of Advancement

· Major Gifts Officer

· Campaign Director

· Grant Development Specialist

· Grant Writer

· Development Officer

· Director of Planned Giving

· Director of Campaigns and Major Gifts

· Development Associate

· Development Director

· Director-Development

· Development Coordinator

No wonder those not working for or in nonprofits find our world a bit opaque!

Don’t accept a nonprofit job for a nonprofit job title, but rather for changing the world for the better. A decent salary doesn’t hurt, either.

No matter what your nonprofit job title is, if it has to do with raising money, you’ve come to the right place. Planned Giving.com and Major Gifts.com are your go-to marketing resources for all things fundraising.

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