Beauty of Philanthropy

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Published May 12, 2015

The Beauty of Philanthropy

“I’m really upset.”

“What’s the problem, Jeff,” I ask. I’m talking with a substantial donor to his university.

“I’m being called on by a member of the fundraising staff. She’s doing fine and asking all the right questions. I’ve been through this plenty of times.  It’s a decent conversation.

“Actually, I really don’t need anyone calling on me. I love my university. I send them a decent check every year. I guess they feel the call and the contact are necessary.

“Anyway, when the call is finished, I ask for her business card. That’s what makes me angry. I never liked the name, major gift officer. I think it’s put-offish. I don’t want to feel I’m making a major gift.

“But here’s what really annoyed me. I look at the business card. Would you believe it! She’s Assistant Director of Major Gifts. Why would they send an assistant to see me? Why not at least the Director of Major Gifts— as much as I dislike the title.”

Jeff and I are kindred spirits. I dislike the title, also. I argue about the title with all my clients and everywhere I go.

I think titles are important. They help open doors. They provide status to the outside world and the people you call on.

Here’s where I start. Instead of Vice President of Development (“What do you do, build shopping centers, housing, or something?”) or Vice President of Advancement, I opt for Vice President of Philanthropy. Philanthropy is such a beautiful word and has such a special connotation.

Below that, it could be Director of Philanthropy (instead of Director of Development). And below that, perhaps Philanthropy Officer.

Yes, yes. I know.  I’m being picky.  I’ve heard that from you before. But words are important. Titles are important.

Let me know what you think. And if you have titles that you prefer, send them along. I’ll pass them on.

Yours for greater and greater philanthropy for your institution.



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