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The way Eric Brown, communications director for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, tells it in a recent Communications Network webinar, it wasn’t a sudden “Eureka moment” that sparked his desire to assess the effectiveness of the training programs his foundation had been offering for years to help grantees develop effective communications skills.
Instead, he was just simply itching to know if these programs were doing any good. “It was bugging me because I didn’t know,” says Brown.
This week the Communications Network held a webinar that had been previously billed as a “no-holds” barred conversation about the value of annual reports to foundation communications. It definitely was a full-throated conversation, with a mix of views — both pro and con — and a variety of examples of different ways various foundations are continuing to produce annual reports. Some the same. Some in modified form. And some not at all.
Have you ever been presented with a draft of a publication from one of your esteemed colleagues so littered with jargon and other obscure words and phrases that its meaning was completely obliterated? Did it read like an electronics manual translated from a foreign language? And despite the hours — even days — you spent explaining the virtue of clear and plain writing, did they insist that not even a word could be altered for fear it would undermine the importance of what they had to say?
If you’ve been in that position before, you are not alone. Jargon unfortunately is a fact of life at foundations and nonprofits.
But it can – and should — be stopped.
Has this happened to your organization: after experimenting with social media you found that nothing happened at all?
If so, you’re not alone. One of the most frequent complaints from organizations grappling with social media tools is that after taking the plunge — whether Tweeting, blogging, or starting new Facebook pages — nothing happens.