Why great charity communications are always jargon free

How does a blind person play football? At what time of day will walking burn off the most calories? How common is female circumcision in the UK?

These are just some of the questions I can answer as a result of working in the charity sector.

Whether I’m writing an annual review or copy for a website, I make sure I understand what the organisation is all about. I’ll read all the literature I can get my hands on, talk to staff and supporters, and where possible visit their services.

But one thing I won’t do? Use the jargon.

Junk the jargon

Think back to your first days in a new job. People talked in phrases you didn’t understand. At meetings, they bandied around acronyms without a second thought. You probably didn’t stop them and ask what they were talking about, worried this would make you look ignorant.

One charity I know started a spreadsheet of acronyms – a ‘jargon buster’. This was helpful, but a better idea would be… stop using them!

Yes, occasionally there’s a need to shorten a term you use a lot internally. But never, ever let this loose in the outside world. The people there – out here – don’t want it.

Sometimes you’re so close to what you do, you don’t even realise you’re using jargon. You assume everyone talks about strategic stakeholder engagement and thinks in ROIs.

If in doubt, ask someone. The guy in the sandwich shop. Your friend. Your Gran. If they don’t understand what you mean, neither will many of your potential supporters.

Need some help ditching the jargon? Get in touch

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