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.