What the Heck is a Repositioning Action? Straight Talk Please!


December 5, 2012; Source: The Atlantic

We have discussed the distancing effect of nonprofit jargon in “What Nonprofits Can Learn from the Response Media Model,” a recent post in our new Now & Next column. Talking in tongues is irritating to constituents on any number of levels. It could make them believe that you do not inhabit the same planet that they do. It could make them believe that you are so insufferably arrogant that you’d rather show off than actually have a conversation. Finally, it could make people mistrust you because you are so obviously trying to obfuscate a point.

This problem is far from unique to our sector, as is evidenced by this paragraph issued by Citibank on the occasion of firing a bunch of people:

“Citigroup today announced a series of repositioning actions that will further reduce expenses and improve efficiency across the company while maintaining Citi’s unique capabilities to serve clients, especially in the emerging markets. These actions will result in increased business efficiency, streamlined operations and an optimized consumer footprint across geographies.”

In other words “we just fired 11,000 employees to save money.” Communication creates capital. Let’s try to talk straight. What’s the worst that can happen? –Ruth McCambridge


Ruth McCambridge

Ruth is Editor in Chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her background includes forty-five years of experience in nonprofits, primarily in organizations that mix grassroots community work with policy change. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ruth spent a decade at the Boston Foundation, developing and implementing capacity building programs and advocating for grantmaking attention to constituent involvement.