Help me come up with the perfect job title!
July 14, 2014 7:54 PM   Subscribe

I work at a fast-paced, startup non-profit. I have been there for six months and have quickly moved up the ranks from administrative assistant to director of community engagement. This is great news, except that I don't want to accidentally be a community engagement person for my entire career. There are a few significant changes happening in the next two months (new CEO, new grant, new responsibilities), and I want to take advantage of this opportunity to broaden my skill set and give myself a new title. Help me figure out what my new title should be and how I should ask for it?

Despite my M. Ed. in public policy (which I'm starting to think is entirely useless), my work has been in community engagement. While it's important, I don't feel that community engagement is the best long-term fit for me - I want to broaden the scope of my work to include more policy-based and less task-based work. I took a chance at this new organization to take on new work and show that I can do more than community engagement.

And they have!

My interim CEO has appointed me to a director-level position doing community engagement, and if a new grant gets approved this week, she wants me to be responsible for the following as well:
- run the membership services department
- run a regional conference for 500 attendees
- manage our communications: website, social media, e-blasts, two PR firms, etc

It's sort of the "hey, this random work needs to get done and it doesn't really belong anywhere."

I want to be grumpy about getting left with a laundry list of random crap to do, but I'm thinking that this is an opportunity to get a new title and ask for a raise (more responsibilities = more pay). I could use it as a way to finally ditch the community engagement titles and diversify my resume'.

What title should I ask for that incorporates all of those random things and doesn't include "community engagement" in it? And how do I advocate for that title while reassuring others in the organization that the community engagement work will continue to get done?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Director of Communications and Member Services
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:03 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Communications and Membership Director
posted by lunasol at 8:24 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree, something about Communication and Membership or Member Services. Directors and up often have an "and" as they oversee multiple areas.

Oh and just because I'm picky I'll point out that you want to make sure your title is Communication not Communications.
posted by radioamy at 8:40 PM on July 14, 2014

Director of Marketing. Marketing pays more than communications, but you can always spin marketing as communications. It's harder to spin communications as marketing. If you can fit sales in there somewhere, you'll make even more. (Not at this job - I just mean in general.)
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:41 PM on July 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

- run the membership services department
- run a regional conference for 500 attendees
- manage our communications: website, social media, e-blasts, two PR firms, etc all still community engagement; it doesn't seem random to me, even if you want to swank up the title to something that would give you more lateral scope.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:04 PM on July 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd go super vague. Director of Strategic Planning. Or maybe Director of Strategic Communications.

I guess it also depends what direction you want your career to head toward. If you aren't interested in communications and you prefer field/membership/engagement stuff, then adjust accordingly. Director Of Membership. Etc. If you don't know, go vague. But make sure people know what you do. Haha.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:19 PM on July 14, 2014

Is your nonprofit "fun" or "serious"? I know that's vague, but I work software, and I used to work at a company that had "fun" divisions and "serious" divisions (games and business software). One thing that the "fun" side did at one point was to let everyone choose their own title. Of course, everyone still had their reporting structure and HR level underneath it all, but people loved opening up the company directory and seeing that they were listed as an "Emulation Ninja" or whatever.

To the point, if this would fit in with your organization's culture, could you come up with something "fun" and use that? It would be a great conversation-starter on your resume, if nothing else... ("Tell me about the time you spent as Grandmaster Cat Herder, Esquire.")
posted by Dilligas at 10:26 PM on July 14, 2014

Director of External Relations
posted by cessair at 4:19 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh and just because I'm picky I'll point out that you want to make sure your title is Communication not Communications.

Meh, stick with what's industry-standard. In nonprofits, it's definitely "communications," often shortened colloquially to "comms."
posted by lunasol at 4:41 AM on July 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like cessair's suggestion of Director of External Relations, because that describes the current job adequately and also points towards a more policy-oriented role in the future. (Although also could make people think you do fundraising, so be careful about that.) Or how about Director of External Affairs?

Another thought: if you want to do more policy work, is there any room for you to add something policy-related to your current list of responsibilities. You don't want to take on too much new work all at once, of course, but that would give you a toehold into policy, and you might be able to talk your boss into letting you have the title Director of Policy and Communications (or External Relations or Community Engagement) or something.
posted by aka burlap at 7:13 AM on July 15, 2014

Director of External Relations often if not almost always implies a fundraising role, so be mindful of that.

At a small non-profit, your title will never encompass all of your duties, because "random other crap that needs doing" is just par for the course.

If it were me, I would steer away from having "membership" in my title at the Director level. Generally, the Director of Community Engagement, or Communication, or Strategic Partnerships implies a higher level, strategic sort of role at the organization, whereas 'Membership' tends to imply a manager-level position that includes a lot of data entry and mailing out membership letters and cards. "Membership" reads much more task-based to me than "Community Engagement." Community Engagement is actually sufficiently broad, and can include everything from policy work to partnerships to donor relations and more.

If it were me I would err on the side of vague as well, but try to encompass most of what I was doing. Personally, I would probably go with Director of Community Engagement and Communications.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:47 AM on July 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

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