In the most recent issue of Advancing Philanthropy, the magazine published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, there’s an article about “how the ways people describe your organization may affect your fundraising strategies”.
Newsflash: There’s a difference between the words we think donors, supporters, volunteers and clients want to hear and the ones they actually want to hear…and that they themselves use.
I was being a little sarcastic when I said this was a newsflash. (Sorry.) What I see time and time and time (and time) again is that organizations pick words that speak to donors’ heads and not their hearts. Why? Because it’s safe. If you say, “We provide housing for low-income families in transition,” you can probably prove that’s what you do. That feels safe.
That’s fine. But it’s not inspiring. And what fundraisers know is that people donate money and time when they feel a sense of belonging, appreciation and/or that they can make a difference. In short–when they’re inspired!
For instance, the organization above might say something like, “We make sure kids have a place to call home,” instead of “We provide housing for low-income families in transition.” If I’m a potential donor, I understand how important a home is and can see myself being a part of making it happen. Not so much when it comes to housing for low-income families.
The Advancing Philanthropy article is based on information from GreatNonprofits and will embolden you in your attempts to use words that inspire action. It’s definitely worth a read.
Bonus: For more on creating jargon-free, engagement-friendly messaging, watch this short video.