Philanthropy Jargon

A Lot Of Jargon courtesy of kevinspencer on Flickr.
When someone creates a website to make fun of your profession, you have a perception problem. Fundraising has been so blessed.

Take a look at Philanthropy Jargon Generator. It’s a random selection of verbs, adjectives and nouns that creates such embarrassing phrases as “define emerging program criteria” and “target inclusive governance.”

Many of the combinations sound plausible. How disconcerting.

On Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio we have Jargon Jail. I strive to keep my guests out of prison and get them on parole quickly. We boast a low recidivism rate, though I do have trouble with the regular contributors from time to time. They tend to talk back to their jailor.

Do the people you talk to understand what you’re saying to them? Institutional funders? Individual donors? Your colleagues?

I’m consciousness raising. Let’s target extended low-bandwidth models. Got a favorite?

14 thoughts on “Philanthropy Jargon

  1. Transparency, development, advancement — all words used so far in this list of responses, and all jargon. It is a bit like a fish not noticing the water because he is in it all the time. I’m not blaming; I’m simply saying that every field of endeavor has its own jargon, and it is difficult to recognize and difficult to get around.

  2. Great post! I love the concept of “jargon jail.” I think people use jargon because it’s kind of an insider language and it makes them feel like they are part of their profession. That said, you can’t use jargon when you communicate with the outside world. How can you connect with donors and other stakeholder when you are using words they don’t understand?

  3. Communication is a two-way process. If we don’t speak language that the other understands, we waste the time of both of us. Nice share, Tony!

  4. I love it. Too lazy to communicate in a way that’s comprehensible to others. As I think about it, it’s also selfish. Lazy and selfish is no way to go through life.

  5. Using jargon is, as my teacher used to say, like swearing: it’s laziness on the part of the speaker/writer.

  6. What a fantastic tool! My team and I had a good chuckle using it yesterday, and like GianfrancoI I plan to share it with attribution in my trainings (in my case, competitive grant seeking and case for support development). Thank you for sharing, Tony!

  7. “jargon” originally meant “secret language” It was intended to create “insiders” and those who were not so blessed. Looks like we are still doing that today!

  8. I still get a kick out of visiting schools and asking them if their LYBNT and SYBNT conversion rate has improved. If they look at me like I have 3 heads, I know I’m dealing with someone that’s just getting their feet wet in Development or Advancement.

  9. That is hilarious. Unfortunately, those in the nonprofit sector use so much jargon that it often leaves Board members befuddled and embarrassed that they don’t ask for clarification and are afraid to ask what the terminology means. Use plain and simple language to aid in transparency.

  10. I love this! My current favorite is culture of philanthropy- to me it means nothing, no one bothers to define how it is created and fostered but everyone tells you to do it!

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