The jargon that may be costing you million$

I’m not saying anything remarkable when I assert that Jargon is bad for fundraising. (There’s even good jargon that can help fundraising!)

I’m not talking jargon like at-risk youth or capacity building. That’s nickel-and-dime stuff.

There’s another kind of jargon that could literally be costing you millions. Even if you’re a small organization.

I’m talking planned giving. And I mean literally the phrase planned giving — and the cluster of other jargon terms related to it.

Your donors don’t know what planned giving is. It’s an insider definition. When you say that, few donors will pay any attention.

Then there’s estate planning. Most donors think an “estate” is a huge house with hundreds of acres and a horse farm. So when you say that, they think you’re talking to someone else.

Same with legacy giving. You and I know what that means. Not many of them do.

Then there are those complex planned giving vehicles, like charitable gift annuities, charitable remainder trust
charitable lead annuity trusts, charitable lead trusts … those things only the tiniest handful of donors will ever even consider.

When you use hieroglyphics like these, you are keeping donors from thinking about putting your organization in their will. You might as well build a wall around your bequest fundraising as hide it behind the in-house jargon we use.

Do you want to get a steady stream of mega-income for decades to come?

Ask donors if they’re interested in putting you in their wills.

Stop using jargon!


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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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About the blogger

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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