A big stumbling block in the charitable world to making a big impact is the inflated vocabulary that muddies the way nonprofits and foundations communicate.
Often seduced by how much they think they know, professionals who work at charities can get hooked on using technical and academic language, jargon and acronymns that can confuse and turn off the supporters, volunteers, donors and partners that charities count on to do their work.
Instead of using the fewest possible words to tell a story that is clear and compelling, many nonprofits and foundations seem overly fond of using a lot of words that are big, abstract, vague and ultimately meaningless and off-putting.
Charity professionals, like their peers in fields such as education and government, also tend to favor the passive voice, as if to avoid any responsibility or accountability for their actions and decisions.
So in telling your story and communicating with the audiences you need to reach, use common sense and keep it simple.
To help do that, get to know the people you are trying to reach, and what they care about. Be direct, use plain words and the active voice, and say what you mean.
And steer clear of the annoying philanthro-babble that devalues the important work you do and makes you sound abstract, clinical and full of yourself.
Your job is to help people understand your cause, not to impress your peers with how much specialized knowledge you have acquired about your field and about philanthropy.
So when you tell your story, make it real.
Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.
To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or firstname.lastname@example.org.