Drowning in Jargon?

July 13, 2011

As communications professionals, we’re always battling jargon – even our own communications-related jargon.

We at TSNE also wrestle with finding alternative ways to express some of these phrases, especially on the Web when we need to be as short and simple as possible.

What are some of your favorite – and least favorite! – examples of jargon you’ve encountered in the nonprofit workplace? What suggestions do you have for restating them in clearer terms?

Comment here or on Facebook with your favorite stories. If you respond by August 31, we’ll include your submission in a poll to go out to readers of the TSNe-Bulletin in September. The winner of the poll will receive a basket of Equal Exchange products.



3 Responses to “Drowning in Jargon?”

  1. Kris Willcox Says:

    Two of my jargon favorites from the fundraising world:

    -It seems that every new program or initiative is being called “robust.” The word is a stand in for everything from “sturdy” to “good” to “aggressive” to “healthy” to “active.” So often seen that it no longer has impact… which I guess means it’s not “robust,” anymore?

    -Everyone and everything is “nimble” these days. I’m all for finding ways to describe agencies in a down economy being frugal and adaptable, but “nimble” is being done to death. It makes us all sound like woodland sprites of the non-profit sector. Enough!

  2. Cheri Friedman Says:

    The jargon that drives me up the wall are letters for items, organizations or programs. Here is a prime example for the Denver Metro area: SCFD. Who/What is that! If you are in the arts in the Denver Metro area you soon learn it stands for the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District, a taxing district that creates funding for Arts & Cultural organizations. How many others are out there that are used by individuals in an industry, that heaven forbid, no-one outside of the industry knows and no-one inside the industry explains when writing copy for grants, websites, etc.

  3. Ellen Gugel Says:

    “Impactful”, as in “We are an impactful organization.” (Our CEO actually uses this.) Tornadoes “impacted” Western Mass residents this year too. Meaningless. I’m a grant writer so I get paid to see through BS, because every grantmaker sees through it too, because they’ve seen it all. The verb form “impact” is also overused, and time to retire it. I suggest we stick with the standard “outcomes”.

    It’s not jargon, but the most boring word you can use in a grant proposal (or any communication) is the word ‘exciting’. Gag!! Meaningless. Exciting to who?! If you have to resort to this word, you are grasping because you have nothing real to offer, and hence your project or organization is probably not very exciting at all (or you need to hire a good grant writer).

    If you’re into this kind of thing, I highly recommend the Marketing Bullshit Generator. See http://www.dack.com/web/bullshit.html for lots of ideas and lots of yuks!!

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