Least Favorite Words Used in Nonprofit Communications

The New Yorker recently ran a great article, "Words Came In, Marked For Death." I loved it ... but really, what word nerd wouldn't?

We craft and edit a lot of copy here at M&C. When it comes to writing for causes, there are some words and phrases that just need a rest. I'm not saying they should be marked for death (harsh!) or that I don't use them every so often, but here it goes ...

1. Impact. This made The New Yorker kill list, but as a verb. Impact is often used as a way to generalize the good work of an organization, e.g., impact hunger. But it's almost always better to speak in specifics. What does an impact look like? Answer that question, and chances are you have some good content from which to work.

2. Youth. Yes, there are plenty of nonprofit programs that include the word youth, and there's a place for it in a program name. But how often do you really use it conversation? There are a lot less sterile ways to say youth, such as young people, youngsters, boys and girls, even teenagers.

3. Make a Difference. Probably one of the most common phrases in all of nonprofit communications. It's so pervasive that readers don't even take notice of it, and so general it could apply to almost anything at all. The goal is to find words that evoke emotion and inspire action.  

What words are on your list?