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AFP’S Discussion Forums: Finding the Right Word

Resource Center - Foundation

An AFP member asked on the association’s discussion forums for powerful, descriptive words to help with a fundraising appeal, and his colleagues responded!

“I want powerful words—one word that describes each of these: community oriented; patient and family centered; and innovate” wrote the member. “I want one word for each that depicts positive, powerful images.”

Others on the discussion forums responded with a number of words and ideas to start the brainstorming, as well as different approaches to finding the appropriate descriptors and imagery:

Community-Oriented: local, public, civic, communal, municipal, free, open, unrestricted, neighborhood, area, village, commune, hamlet, kinship, unity, identity, cooperation, spirit, convergence, similarity, group, society, public, people, population, collective, joined, supportive, preventative, problem-solving

Patient and Family Centered: relations, relatives, folks, kin, children, family unit, extended family, nuclear family, clan, nearest and dearest, loved ones, people, kinfolk, ancestors, descendants, dynasty, lineage, line, family tree, blood, species, genus, type, kind, line, breed, strain, variety, group, category, compassionate, caring, friendly, relationships, supportive, dialogue, sharing, involvement, collaboration, empowering, honest, equality

Innovate: groundbreaking, advanced, state of the art, pioneering, inventive, original, new, novel, modern, forward-thinking, fresh, improved, creative, better, leader

Other members offered their approach to finding that right word:

I find that to powerfully convey a concept you need to provide an objective correlative (a concrete, associative, image—a person, place, or thing), so I prefer noun-phrases to other abstract terms.  When I think of "innovative", great inventors like Thomas Edison come to mind (Edisonesque?), Patient and Family Centered—Hippocrates?  Community Oriented— I think of a town square.


It is easier to evoke ideas using images than vice versa. The phrases you listed are concepts so perhaps the way to approach this is to identify the image for each and work from there.

Want help finding the right word? Need advice and guidance on an issue? AFP has the largest network of fundraising professionals in the world who are happy to help each other on all issues related to philanthropy. Use the discussion forums or log on to AFP’s new members-only online community: AFP2P!

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