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How to incorporate people-first language into fundraising

Missed our recent Fundraising Refreshments webinar on people-first language? Here's a recap:

  • 2:49 Examples of people-first language
  • 4:21 How do we make the shift?
  • 5:08 Putting this into action


If you work in the area of human services, you’ve probably heard the term “people-first language” when dealing with fundraising and marketing. People-first language is certainly not a new concept, but it’s one that has been receiving more attention in recent years.

So, what exactly is people-first language? Really, it boils down to humanity. Treating people with respect and dignity. Recognizing that someone’s current circumstances are not due to a “flaw” in their character.

Sometimes people simply need help, and people-first language strives to reflect that humanity in the messaging we write for fundraising materials. And it requires us to change our perspective a bit.

Here are a few quick examples:


Ultimately, we all know philanthropy is about connection. It should never be about sensationalism or exploitation. As fundraisers, we must present people with the problem and show them how they can help make a difference.

The challenge, at times, is finding the right balance between being thoughtful about the messaging while still motivating donors emotionally to give to your organization.

I recently hosted a quick 10-minute webinar to dive into this topic, and I shared a few copy examples on how to make the shift in language. Check out the recording above, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions!

Erin Albitz

Erin Albitz is a highly accomplished and talented creative professional with more than 15 years of experience in creating great fundraising work for nonprofit organizations. In her award-winning career, she has helped grow the revenue of nonprofit organizations both large and small, including American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, World Vision, Operation Smile, Mercy Ships, Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USO, Christian Appalachian Project and The American Legion, as well as many rescue missions and food banks. As Group Creative Director at RKD Group, Erin works in partnership with all teams—sharing best practices, efficiencies and new pathways to greater success for all clients.

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