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Be Real and Cut the Jargon

cut-the-jargon

Are you hoping your “donor-centric” approach will create a “targeted impact” for “all stakeholders?”  If so, you may be in the grips of jargon-itis.

Here are common symptoms:

  • A large amount of words are spoken, but nothing of value is said.
  • A speaker’s main purpose when speaking is to hide the fact that he/she has absolutely nothing to say.
  • A speaker doesn’t feel authorized to say anything real or specific outside the confines of his/her own basement.
  • Listeners, although human-seeming, cannot be distinguished from plant life due to their utter disengagement and motionlessness.
  • Words of less than 10 letters seem to have been outlawed.
  • Fresh-faced interns are losing their moxie at frightening speeds.

If these sound familiar, your organization is in trouble.

Now, we realize that some areas of nonprofit work use specialized terms.  That’s fine.  But meaningless corporate jargon should always be kept to a minimum.  It wastes time, obscures the point, alienates listeners, and probably contributes to global warming, somehow.

We came to the nonprofit world to more human, not less.  If we wanted to use corporate buzzwords all day, we would have stayed at Business, Inc., slaving away to meet earnings goals and push the chairman’s stock price up another half-tick.

But we didn’t.  So let’s simply walk the walk, and leave talking the talk to the corporate folks.

How can you change?  Here are a few phrase substitutions that will get you in the right frame of mind:

“Based on some feedback we’ve received, we need to adopt a donor-centric approach going forward.”

=>  BECOMES  =>

“We have been sued by several supporters who got a piece of mail each day during our last campaign.  We need to stop harassing people before things get violent. “ 
“Self-sufficiency is probably the key to solving some of these fiscal challenges.”

=>  BECOMES  =>

“Does anyone have any ideas about how we can make money without having to beg for every single dollar in our budget?” 
“I’m thinking that capacity-building limitations are the problem we’re running into.”

=>  BECOMES  =>

“If we want to become a major animal welfare group, we have to benefit more animals than just the founder’s cat.” 

Keep it real, and you’ll be on the fast track to realigning your internal communications strategy to a more listener-friendly paradigm going forward.

Oh, wait.  We mean:

Keep it real, and people in your organization and community will start listening to each other instead of tuning each other out.

That’s better.

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