Nonprofit Jargon Watch

For your future use and reference, Blue Avocado shares some common jargon often found across the nonprofit sector.

Nonprofit Jargon Watch
2 mins read

Some new nonprofit terminology to add to your lexicon.

Something old, something new… something to sprinkle into your lunchtime conversations…

Mouse-click activism

Activities such as signing Internet petitions or posting the color of your bra on Facebook (to raise awareness of breast cancer), which are arguably either pointless feel-goods for the lazy do-gooder or tech-savvy, next-generation activism. “He tweets about dozens of causes.” “Yeah, that mouse-click activism takes up a lot of time.”

Greenwashing or green sheen

Usually referring to a company or political candidate who touts environmental concerns to cover up anti-environmental actions, such as “environmentally friendly” products that contain hazardous materials. We’re looking for greenwashing dollars from corporate polluter.

Diversity pimp

Someone who makes money from diversity, similar to poverty pimps (in the War on Poverty). One type is a corporate “Chief Diversity Officer” who serves as window dressing without any power or influence, and another is the well-paid consultant who facilitates dialogue about diversity and conducts diversity audits, usually for foundations that don’t really address diversity issues. That diversity pimp just another big grant from that foundation that doesn’t fund communities of color.

Catalytic philanthropy

The new version of “strategic philanthropy” or “transformative philanthropy.” Sometimes just another meaningless phrase, but more dangerously its use can indicate a foundation that sees itself as the prime mover and everyone else as its vendors or patients. “Catalytic Philanthropy” was sure the title of a lot of foundation conference sessions this year.

If you’ve got the bandwidth and the buy-in, at the end of the day it’s very leaderful up at 30,000 feet over civil society. As de Tocqueville once said. Contextualize and foreground that, next gen-ers!

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Blue Avocado is an online magazine fueled by a monthly newsletter designed to provide practical, tactical tips and tools to nonprofit leaders. A small but mighty team of committed social sector leaders produces the publication, enlisting content from a wide range of practitioners, funders, and experts.

Articles on Blue Avocado do not provide legal representation or legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for advice or legal counsel. Blue Avocado provides space for the nonprofit sector to express new ideas. Views represented in Blue Avocado do not necessarily express the opinion of the publication or its publisher.

One thought on “Nonprofit Jargon Watch

  1. From Geoff Canham, Omokoroa, New Zealand; “Retrospective reality“…(“This is what we meant all along”) the one where an organisation’s published outcomes (post consultation), although forcing that organisation’s begrudging acknowledgement that the findings differed from their pre-determined stance/ internalised beliefs pre-consultation, are couched in such a way as to validate what was said in the first place.

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