Oct 16, 2007

When "Academese" Meets Fundraising Jargon

And now, for the dark side of fundraising's increasing popularity as a subject for college study: Academic articles are being written about the topic. And not just academic, but seriously academic, with incomprehensible language, mile-long sentences, and the bizarre removal of personal pronouns (or anything else personal).

I'm trying to plow through some of these articles right now, and coming across phrases like, "convergence of concentrating wealth," and "ignore proactively pursuing capital." As if the fundraising world itself didn't already have its linguistic trouble zones, with words like "sustainability," "empowerment," and "outcomes" just waiting to be used and overused.

The sad thing is, some of these academic articles contain valuable information for people working in nonprofits - if anyone could understand them using the limited brain capacity that remains after a long day's hard work. It's ironic that, in a field with such real-world, immediate applications, the writers still feel they must prove their ability to write as abstrusely as the next PhD- or tenure-seeker. Lighten up, folks!

And for tips on how you can use the best language (and avoid those pesky linguistic trouble spots), pick up a copy of Every Nonprofit's Guide to Publishing: Creating Newsletters, Magazines & Websites  People Will Read, by Cheryl Woodard & Lucia Hwang (Nolo).