Philanthrosaurus | Fall 2018

By Levi Weinhagen

It’s time for another round of philanthrosaurus – a chance to translate trending or clichéd phrases and concepts in philanthropy.

Bandwidth: The energy or mental capacity to deal with a situation. Nearly everyone working in philanthropy or the nonprofit sector in general has experienced not having the time or money needed to complete every project as expected. We try to do work from a place of abundance while knowing that many of the resources needed to do the work will come indirectly, if at all. It can be hard to say no or alter expectations based on reality but imagine if, instead of saying we don’t have the bandwidth, we could just say, “I don’t have the time or money or staff support or emotional capacity to currently take on this project.”

Innovation: We very often talk about trying new things and taking risks in philanthropy. But it is often used in an aspirational or “down the road” context. When we want to suggest we’re employing new systems or ways of thinking without as much accountability or risk of failure, we dress it up with the word “innovation.” The reality is that if you’re certain it will work or at least certain it won’t fall all the way apart, you’re aren’t really taking a risk.

Pick Your Brain: You seem successful, interesting and intelligent. This is an over-used phrase that often means: I would like to use some of your time and experience without having to compensate you in any way. Sound good?

Silo: It is time to find other ways of saying that folks are not talking and working with one another across your organization. If you aren’t talking about a tower or pit on a farm used to store grain, people are not in silos, they are just overworked and not sure they can ask one another for help.

Soft Ask: What if there was a passive-aggressive way of fundraising to complement the way we put up with anonymous notes next to the office sink reminding people that their lunch dishes don’t wash themselves? Sometimes we indirectly ask for financial support of our work because we know the funder can’t make an overt investment, but most of the time we’re just avoiding the straightforward conversation in the belief that a maybe or an unclear is better than a no. But a yes or a no to funding requests is really the only useful information that we need.

What jargon terms drive you crazy?
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More of Giving Forum V40, Fall 2018