Dropping the NGO and charity jargon
Posted by: Gemma Keogh | 05.03.15


It’s a strange paradox that the passion many NGOs and charities have for their causes can, at times, actually stop them from connecting with their audiences.

Failing to appreciate that many of the audiences you need to connect and engage with don’t share your level of insight and sector knowledge runs the risk of you using a language that is alienating to many people.

All businesses have their own sets of jargon and baffling acronyms, and the Third Sector is no different – dare I say it, perhaps one of the worst culprits?

When you’re looking to campaign, fundraise, lobby or advocate you must step back and ALWAYS think from your audience’s point of view, not yours.

Ask yourself, how will the trusts, foundations, politicians, general public (insert stakeholders here) relate to this information? Will this technical language make sense to them, why will they actually care about this cause?

Not only can you not expect your audiences to understand the day to day technical language you use they are also incredibly time poor so you only have brief moment to grab their attention.

It’s a very easy trap to fall into, being blinded by the passion you have for your subject and failing to translate your communications into a form that is simple, clear and compelling.

And don’t be fooled by notion that communications should be simple. One of the toughest communications challenges is to distill a complex issue down into focused, understandable key messages.

This is in fact the true test of how well you know your own subject – it’s a case of ‘I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time’.

So next time you’re compiling a new campaign report, fundraising ask or advocacy document ask yourself one very simple question – ‘if I read this today with no prior knowledge of this issue would I understand this document?’

If the answer is ‘no’ get talking to your communications team and don’t get lost in translation.