CREDENTIALISM

Posted in Quick Hits on September 15th, 2015 by Ed

A friend posted a notice for this job on social media. To be clear, there's nothing remotely wrong with the job itself. It looks like a good one, in a good location, for a good organization, and likely at non-poverty compensation levels. By the time I reached the end – "Requirements" – I thought immediately of yesterday's post about online / for-profit universities peddling useless paper while Americans rack up billions in student loan debt. I'm not going to parse the entire job posting, but here are the major functions of the person who holds the position:

Primary Purpose: To enter and acknowledge gifts and accurately maintain data for Minnesota Orchestra donors, updating records in a timely manner according to standard business and accounting procedures.

MAJOR JOB FUNCTIONS
Gift Processing
· Enter gifts received by check, lockbox, telefunding, internet and other sources
· Ensure accurate and efficient entry of all gift and patron information
· Troubleshoot questions about gifts with appropriate fundraisers as they arise
· Review and balance gift entry totals against deposits and/or reports

Acknowledgement Processing
· Generate acknowledgements through database and mail merge for all gifts following internal business practices
· Edit, print and distribute letters to appropriate fundraisers for signature
· Maintain accurate tracking system to ensure all letters are mailed in timely manner

Communication (Internal/External)
· Generate daily email to department with lockbox and check details
Complete and send corporate matching forms
Follow up with patrons with expired, expiring or declined credit cards
Assist Manager of Development Operations and other staff as needed

Database Integrity
· Update donor information based on gift entry forms and other communications
· Update demographic information received in daily reports from Ruffalo Noel Levitz
· Research returned mail for current addresses and update database accordingly
· Other duties as assigned

Pretty basic, right?

The first requirement is "Four-year college degree."

Can anyone explain to me why a Bachelor's Degree is necessary to do any aspect of this job? No offense intended, but this is essentially a secretarial / data entry position. If you can work an Excel spreadsheet (as a lot of high school graduates or 2-year degree holders can no doubt do competently) there is nothing here that you can't do. Most of it amounts to data entry, sending emails, compiling summaries of data on donations, and so on. One of the stated primary responsibilities is mailing letters. And a four-year college degree is the first requirement listed.

We talk a lot about the problem of creeping credentialism – the insistence by employers that basically any position that does not involve french fries or a mop be restricted to college graduates – and this example belongs in the Hall of Fame. People are rational. Maybe not smart, wise, curious, or reasonable, but they are rational in that they respond to incentives. If you tell people that they can't get a job unless they raise two goats and a palm tree, the majority of people are going to respond by becoming impromptu goat / palm tenders.

By all means, apply. Looks like a decent job. What it doesn't look like is a job that requires a $100,000 degree to do competently. People will continue to throw money at diploma mills in direct proportion to the share of entry-level positions restricted to the most over-credentialed applicants.