Bullsh*t Bingo – Part 3

No-one likes BS!(image by nebojsa mladjenovic)

No-one likes BS!
(image by nebojsa mladjenovic)

Hoo boy. I went to a fantastic fundraising conference in Toronto, but sometimes when people are trying to impress other people you start hearing a lot of words that qualify for a round of Bullsh*t Bingo (BSB).

Here’s a fresh batch of words to expunge* from your proposals, meetings and other human interactions. For serious – I’m not fooling around here.

Orthopraxy: Yes! Orthopraxy! I bet you don’t even believe someone said that in front of me and lived. Well it happened in Toronto and it could happen here too. The person was discussing the difference between rules and actual practices in fundraising (orthodoxy versus orthopraxy) and when I regained consciousness I vowed to shame this word on my blog.

Ideation: Unbelievably, this is a synonym for the word “thinking.” If I was a funder and read this in a proposal I would roll it up and smoke it.

Value proposition: My awesome colleague Theresa F. blew the whistle on this phrase. Please don’t ever use it unless a donor says it first. Then you will just have to suck it up. Normally, I’d use words like “impact” or “results.” But don’t take my word for it – check out this great article on corporate- versus donor-speak by Tom Ahern.

Programs: I know what you’re thinking – this is a normal word, right? Not when used in the social sector to describe an activity when you could just name the activity itself.
Example: “At Junior Achievement, we deliver programs on business education.”
What does that even mean?
Instead: “At Junior Achievement, volunteers teach business education to elementary and high school students.”
If you can substitute the actual activity for the word “program,” do it.

Meme: NerdSpeak for a catchy idea. Like posting cat photos on Pinterest. An unusual percentage of fundraisers and major gift donors are closet Luddites, so this kind of language can really scare us to pieces. Tap the brakes Sweetpea.

Comment, follow, and stay tuned for BSB4.

– Siobhan : )

* “Expunge”! Pah! That’s exactly what I’m talking about here people.


About Siobhan Aspinall

About Siobhan Aspinall: I am a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE), passionate about the environment, social causes and surfing. I have been fundraising in Vancouver, Canada for over 20 years and love working with people who have a fear of fundraising. Call me for help developing a first-time fundraising plan, starting up a major gifts program, writing a case for support, or anything else that's keeping you awake at night! Please find me on linkedin and tell me what you'd like to see in future posts! : ) Photo Credit (sanddollar header): Minette Layne via Compfight cc
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5 Responses to Bullsh*t Bingo – Part 3

  1. Theresa says:

    Your “awesome colleague” loved your blog already, and reads it religiously, but loves it even more now that you’ve made her famous! Nice work. Looking forward to BSB4.

  2. andreaswylie says:

    Re: programs

    A great reminder on the importance of clarity and avoiding unnecessary words.

  3. andreaswylie says:

    RE: programs. A great reminder on the importance of clarity and that less is more.

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