Dump the Cliches: Words and Phrases Fundraisers Love to Hate!

Wow, I hit a nerve last week when I talked about my Least Favorite fundraising words.

These words are lame!

For the record, my own personal award for most disliked word goes to “underserved.” I think that word is a very lame effort to describe the wonderful people we try to help.

My next least favorite words are “programs” and “services.”

Again – I just can’t raise a whole lot of money with these words, because they have no power, no punch.

I asked my readers last week to add their own least favorite words in the comments boxes.

And boy did I get an earful!

Isn’t it just so much fun to vent! We are usually much too busy. But in the summertime when things finally slow down a bit, we have the time to get punchy and talk bad.

Drumroll . . . . please:

Here are YOUR own nominations for least favorite fundraising words:

  • Leverage
  • Engage
  • Financial resources
  • Capacity
  • Sustainability
  • Empower
  • Ministry
  • Facilitate
  • Outreach
  • Benefit
  • Efforts
  • Accomplishments

    Funny and ironic wording grabs attention faster than boring words.

  • Outcomes
  • Impoverished
  • Dignity

Here are your most disliked cliches:

  • doing anything one anything at a time — changing the world one family at a time…saving the planet one tree at a time…..saving the future one child at a time…..rebuilding communities one house at time…
  • “On behalf of….”    — Ugh!
  • I am writing to tell you blah blah blah
  • “The purpose of this letter” — is equally bad.
  • “Now more than ever”
  • “Maximize” and “capacity building”
  • “Impactful” and “Make a difference!”

Wouldn’t it be nice to never, ever see these words and phrases again in the nonprofit world?

BOTTOM LINE: Be smart!

It’s way too easy to lapse into boring, hackneyed words and phrases.

But remember, when you water down your fundraising appeal with this sort of stuff, you are sending out pablum.

Don’t expect to raise a lot of money with these words and phrases.

What else have we missed?

Do you have another “Least Favorite” to share?