What we Talk About When Talking About Programs
What do you talk about when talking about your programs?
In an ideal world, we choose an approach, tone, and language to match the interest of our audience. But do poorly-funded social impact organizations staffed by underpaid and overworked community-minded individuals have the time to cater communication materials to the multitude of stakeholders which include program participants, partner organizations, allied groups, funders, local community, government, advocates, donors, volunteers and staff.
I am not going to get into how to present your program to each stakeholder: I am going to bring attention to the risk of using outcome language just a little too much.
As a grant writer, I want to know more about your program outcomes and a little less about your project activities. However outcomes do not necessarily paint a vibrant picture of your program. Outcomes alone can be vague and often indicate nothing of what is actually happening on the ground. Two radically different projects can have the exact same outcomes. While outcomes are important for ensuring alignment, measurement purposes, program development and fundability, outcome language is not so colourful.
When not communicating with a funder, temper outcome language with animated descriptions of program participants and key activities.