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Jan 18, 2019

Retiring the Term “Donor Engagement”

I woke up this morning with the need to cease using the term donor engagement. It needs to be laid to rest.

This is a serious personal drag because it now means I need to remove all those blogs we have written on the topic.

But nonetheless, I am retiring the word from my vocabulary. I think you should too. Here’s why:

  •  It’s a top down word.
    • You’d never here a donor say: “I’m going to engage with my favorite nonprofit organization today.” Donor engagement is an institutional term. And if we are truly to be donor-central, then we must retire the words and ways that don’t support that goal.
  • The term is a euphemism.
    • When development people say donor engagement they really mean is “let’s engage the donor with the hope that they give us more money.” Let’s be honest: donor engagement has become synonymous with donor cultivation.

Language is important. I believe donors want their nonprofits to sound like real people who are working in great movements to change the world for the better.

I think we need a new term, and it needs to be honest.

What do you think?


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