Last week, my friend and fellow fundraising blogger, Mary Cahalane, posted about words and phrases that need to be discontinued in communications with supporters. Shortly after, my good friend, author, and blogger, Michael Rosen, followed with his own post of a similar topic. I have also written about the annoying use of jargon and acronyms when talking to supporters, so I am in agreement with both of them, but one of the words Michael chose for his blog caught my attention, and I took an exception to his choice.
The word in dispute is generous. Michael states in his post that generous “is a word that can work, but can also be problematic, depending on your audience.” When donors hear about a generous gift, they tend to think about it in terms of size, and in that context he is correct. Generous should not be used in a quantitative manner.
I tend to view the word as a qualitative term. I use it as a term describing how and why the gift was given, instead of how big the gift is. I have known many who have very little in the way of money or property but were very generous in giving what they had. I know people who would give you the shirt off their back if they thought it would benefit you.
The example that best describes generous for me can be found in the Book of Luke in the New Testament of the Bible:
While I realize that organizations want generous donors that will give gifts of great size, we need to appreciate the generous donors who give as much as they can. Their sense of generosity should be an example for us all to follow.