Nonprofit Jargon Watch

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! Post your favorite nonprofit jargon below as a Comment, or email it to Blue Avocado editors for a future issue by clicking here.

Comments (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.

    Mar 16, 2010

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