The two types of jargon that gum up fundraising

Jargon is bad for communication.

I know that’s easy to say. And a lot of people say it.

But you still find it constantly in fundraising. Those insider professional terms being thrown at donors, like: Food insecure, at-risk youth, capacity building, holistic, civil society …

It’s very simple: these are specialist terms, and only specialists know them. Few of your donors understand such terms, and even fewer are moved by them.

Stay away from those terms.

But there’s another kind of jargon that’s even more insidious, as pointed out at Clairification: How Jargon Destroys Nonprofit Fundraising & Marketing.

It’s those odd phrases we sometimes use to avoid being specific when we’re asking for money — but we’re either uncomfortable with asking … or we have brand guidelines that insist on a blanket of idealistic abstraction around our communications. Phrases like:

  • Change your world today
  • Restore hope
  • Empower a child

These phrases are no better than the technical jargon that can trap us.

To communicate clearly and raise more funds, keep these two anti-jargon rules in mind:

  1. If it’s professional terminology, don’t use it.
  2. If it’s abstract, don’t use it.

Use plain, concrete, non-specialist language all the time!


Comments

4 responses to “The two types of jargon that gum up fundraising”

  1. Great reminder. It’s so easy to loose readers by using industry jargon that makes the message sound overly complicated.

  2. Great reminder. It’s so easy to loose readers by using industry jargon that makes the message sound overly complicated.

  3. So true! (If only management would let these words and phrases go…..

  4. So true! (If only management would let these words and phrases go…..

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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