Nonprofit Messaging Advice from Tina Fey?

Published on April 16, 2011 by      Print
Nonprofit Messaging Advice from Tina Fey?

In Tina Fey’s very funny new book, “Bossypants,” she writes about her first job after college, which happened to have been at a well-known nonprofit—the YMCA (which, of course, is now just “the Y” – a subject that warrants its own article). In Tina’s case, she worked at the front desk of the YMCA in Evanston, IL, in 1992.

An entire chapter of her book is dedicated to her experiences working at the YMCA, where she had the opportunity to observe the “office people” who worked in offices upstairs (she worked at the front desk).

She writes:

There was a program director who talked exclusively in nonsense business language: “We are attemping to pro-activate the community by utilizing a series of directives intended to maximate communicative agreeance.”

Tina got one thing right – it was definitely nonsense. But, it wasn’t “nonsense business language.” It was nonprofit speak (and we can all relate).

When you spend your working days writing grants for funding programs that will solve problems that cause you sleepless nights, there’s no wonder nonprofit folks start speaking this way.

But, let’s take a lesson from Tina Fey. It is nonsense. Your nonprofit deserves better—it deserves clear, meaningful messages.

Here are a few tips to make sure you don’t end up in Tina’s next book.

by Hannah Gregory, founder, SHOESTRING (the nonprofit’s agency) – Contact: nonprofitPR at shoestringgroup dot com

Hannah is also the volunteer national campaign director for the Nonprofits Now! awareness campaign and the editor of Nonprofit Beat.

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