publication date: Apr 27, 2012
You've done your prospect research, you've studied the
new-to-you cultures that your charity wants you to engage, but you're still
feeling awkward and ill-prepared. Fundraising authority Lilya Wagner
offers these practical communication tips to help you
feel at ease in your first conversations.
Lilya Wagner is director of Philanthropic Service for
Institutions, an internal consulting group serving North American organizations
affiliated with or operated by the Seventh-day
Adventist Church. She is a long-time
faculty member of The Fund Raising School, and is on the philanthropic studies
faculties of the Center on Philanthropy
at Indiana University and St. Mary's
University in Minnesota.
- Be careful about statements like
"I went to school with many Indo-Canadians" or "My best friend was Black." These platitudes, while well-meant because
they are intended to show acceptance, can be offensive.
Avoid phraseology such as boy,
gal, fella, guys (for both genders), you people, your people or they, which may
be insulting, at least to some degree.
Be alert to your own speech quality,
rate, pitch, and volume. Realize Canadians
tend to speak very fast. Try for a
Avoid colloquialisms such as "Let's
all pull together."
Beware of clichés and phraseology that are
uniquely North American, such as "ballpark figure."
Be aware that hand gestures and
signals can have various interpretations, even when they're innocent in your
own cultural context.
Remember that some cultures are very
open in matters such as asking a person's age or talking about money. Others are far more private.
Humour is situational even in our
own country. It is even more of a
landmine in another culture.
Learn to speak plain, direct
English. Instead of saying "We need a
level playing field," say We need things to be fair. Instead of "Let me run this idea past
you," try Let me tell you my idea. And
try to imagine what "There is no magic bullet" may mean to someone who has just
learned English. It's much better expressed as There is no universal or