Philanthropic Phrases and Other Beasts

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Ruth McCambridge

I was asked to facilitate a panel the other day and the main admonition of the organizer was to be on jargon watch.

What is the most annoying jargon you see being used among nonprofits and philanthropists right now? In a phrase or a word, let us know.

For the forty plus years I have worked in nonprofits it has been more than apparent that skilled translation is often required between the community people we work with and the funders to whom we are beholden – or to whom we’d like to be beholden.

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In fact, I remember decades ago listening to a man from the Seventh Generation Fund talk about the potential of mission mutilation and distance from community contained within the process of translating your community’s realities and intentions to terms that funders will accept. That admonition has stayed with me though, of course, I am as vulnerable to the siren call of jargon as anyone else.

So help us out. We have a reason for asking the question – you will be adding to a handy dandy new feature on the NPQ website so send us your nonprofit professional gobbledygook today! You’ll be doing the world a favor.