Category Archives: Social Change

The 7 Banned Words – Um, Remember Freedom of Speech?

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services made it clear last month that to ensure their funding stream, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is best advised to avoid 7 words in their vocabulary: “fetus,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “vulnerable,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based.”

Really? Come on now, folks. There is simply no excuse for asking anyone to “tone down” their documents by erasing parts of the English language. Some call this a “ban”, while others term it a “recommendation”. Either way, it’s simply “very problematic.”

Of course, none of us can tolerate censorship of our work. And those of us dealing with critical social issues — such as healthcare or human rights or the environmental crisis or poverty — need every word at our disposal to help us make the world a better place.  Even in business writing, which is often thought of as dry and painful, we writers have the right to express ourselves fully (creatively, even).

I was heartened to read about The Human Rights Campaign’s response to the Trump Administration’s dictate; the organization projected all 7 words onto the entrance to the Trump International Hotel in Washington, along with the words “we will not be erased.”

As writers, let’s instead use our erasers (or delete buttons) to make sure our words are clear, concise, and meaningful: to say whatever needs to be said, no matter what.

The Green Scene: Reframing “Climate Change” Messages

In recent months and years, climate change has been making an increasingly deeper impact on every one of our lives — across the country and around the world. But the term “climate change” doesn’t seem sufficient to describe the enormous challenges we are facing today: historic fires, droughts, hurricanes, and the sinking of some coastal cities.

As we already know, using the right language can mean a huge difference in successfully winning a grant, engaging a website visitor, or accomplishing a myriad of other essential tasks in our organizations. Just as important, the language we use to define our environmental problems can influence how others see the situation and take action (or not).

How can the right language help? Perhaps renaming “climate change” is a start. “Climate change” doesn’t identify the depth of the challenge, describe why things are happening as they are, or inspire us to address the situation. Susan Strong, Founder and Executive Director of The Metaphor Project (and a former editing client of mine for her book, Move Our Message: How to Get America’s Ear), mentions three steps we can take to use our language more decisively.

Read about her three steps in her blog article, Reframe “climate change,” in 3 Steps!.

 

 

Social Impact & Innovation Conference Wrap-Up (Fall 2017)

[We are continuing our series on the highlights and key takeaways from social impact and innovation conferences around the world. You can view our calendar of upcoming conferences, and let us know of others you’d like to share!]

As we moved into the last few months of the year, innovative thinkers and changemakers from around the world continued to come together to discuss the most pressing issues facing our communities. Storytelling and building effective communication were common themes across these conferences, encouraging us to take what we learned and use it to inspire our coworkers and those with similar dreams.

Chicago was the backdrop for this year’s Grant Professionals Association Annual Conference. Designed for professionals across all levels, workshops guided participants on leaving lasting impressions to win funding, crafting grant proposals and budgets, converting your grant writing experiences into capital to invest in your profession and becoming an effective advocate for your organization.

ComNet17 brought foundation and nonprofit professionals together to inspire each other to use strategic communications to spur positive social change. Breakout sessions discussed how to battle media scrutiny and criticism, how to create memorable, shareable and inspiring stories, and how to communicate with applicants, grantees, and board members in the grantmaking process. Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments, gave an impactful keynote speech on how we can use our voices and speak up for our values at a time when none of us can afford to be silent.

At Stanford Social Innovation Review’s 12th Annual Nonprofit Management Institute, Continue reading

Social Impact & Innovation Conference Wrap-Up (Summer 2017)

[We are continuing our series on the highlights and key takeaways from social impact and innovation conferences around the world. You can view our calendar of upcoming conferences, and let us know of others you’d like to share!]

As we shifted into summer, we saw movers and shakers around the world come together to create, discuss, and implement solutions for current world challenges.

This year’s +Impact East Conference focused on workplace giving and volunteering. America’s Charities released preliminary findings from their Snapshot2017 survey of more than 1,500 employee donors. They noted that workplace giving is alive and thriving, and that a winning recruitment and retention strategy is emphasizing employee community engagement, such as paid time off to volunteer, company match, and volunteer service grants. Other issues explored included a presentation by actress Nzinga Blake, who explained the secret ingredients of storytelling for social impact: the why, what’s at stake, and the call to action. Everyone (staff, volunteers, clients, etc.) loves a good story and can take inspiration from it!

The Social Innovation Summit 2017 in Chicago brought together innovative thinkers and global leaders to develop and advance the most impactful social partnerships. In one workshop discussion, participants shared ideas for scaling successful innovations on a global level, including how to invest time and resources into identifying local partners in your communities who share your visions and understanding how initiatives with similar visions can complement each other, rather than compete.

We heard from Van Jones how “There are two political parties in the country: The ‘Give a Damn’ party and the ‘Don’t Give a Damn’ party.” With the overall agreement that now is the time to do something, we realized the importance of blending our passions with our frustrations. One important reminder is that we all have a seat at the table to make significant changes because it is up to us to solve the problems of our time. Continue reading

Social Impact & Innovation Conference Wrap-Up (April 2017)

We are introducing a new ongoing series on the highlights and key takeaways from social impact and innovation conferences around the world. Our team is actively engaged in helping to create a better world and one way we can help is to share the stories and visions of like-minded individuals and organizations. You can view our calendar of upcoming conferences and we would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations about other learning opportunities.

The month of April brought us better weather and a wealth of information from conferences in England to ones in Durham, NC and Philadelphia.

Media relations and marketing were the focal point at the Create Good Conference. “Offering a creative space for nonprofit communications professionals to ‘get the tools to get to work,’” the conference hosted workshops ranging from grassroots organizing and marketing to Millennials to the future and effectiveness of nonprofit communications. Keynote speaker, Shanelle Matthews, Director of Communications for Black Lives Matter, reminded us that “Mass communications is changing. Gmail has a 4% open rate. Remember that next time you send an email.” We can all work to inspire each other and help better the communities that we want to live in.

Continue reading