On almost any list of fundraising don'ts, you'll see something like this: Avoid jargon!
It's fairly good advice. But not always.
There are some excellent reasons for using the right kind of jargon. It can make you more persuasive and connect you more closely with your donors. If you do it right.
Jargon is nothing other than specialized language. People talk and write in jargon because it's useful for expressing specialized concepts. More important, using jargon marks you as an insider.
Those of us who work in direct mail fundraising throw around all kinds of jargon: Carrier envelope. Driver. Remit (accent on the first syllable, of course).
It's easier that way. We don't have to say "the envelope that all the other stuff is in when the package mails." If you had a professional colleague who never used the jargon, you'd think he was a little slow.
Professions aren't the only groups that have jargon. Faith communities do. So do localities.
If you're raising funds from homogeneous groups that share a jargon, by all means use that jargon. It's a way to show that you and the donor are in the same group. You speak the same language.
Two guidelines for jargon use in fundraising:
- Be very confident your audience will understand whatever jargon you use. The jargon that kills fundraising is the jargon that excludes donors.
- Look at your motive: Be sure you're using jargon not to show them how smart you are, but how smart they are. That will help you find the jargon that includes donors.