Choosing the Correct Word: Catastrophe

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, called the recent revelations of priest abuse and cover-up in six dioceses in Pennsylvania a “moral catastrophe.” He could not have used a more powerful or appropriate word. Everyone understands a catastrophe. A deadly hurricane. Mass murder. The killing of a president. Acts of war, human trafficking and other human atrocities. A catastrophe suggests widespread destruction with untold consequences that will require heroic efforts to restore and make whole, and holy, again. Catastrophe. Why did the Executive Committee of the Bishop’s Conference use this particular word? Words can cut to the heart of the truth. Cardinal Di Nardo clearly understands that this is not the time for crisis communications strategies or legal briefs. While important clarifications might be in order for particular dioceses, now is not the time for half measures. It is time for the simple truth that everyone understands. Near...

The Red Kettle

Every nonprofit organization dreams of a brand signature as recognizable as The Salvation Army Red Kettle. It is an American icon. Like Chevrolet or the iPhone, it is hard to imagine a world without it. During the recent “bell ringers” Christmas campaign, The Salvation Army announced it was lagging in gifts. Fewer people were dropping less money in the kettles at retail stores. Are people less generous? Have they forgotten The Salvation Army's mission? Is the nostalgic image of the bell ringer in a Santa suit just that, nostalgia? You don’t have to think too hard or look too far to figure out what is going on. First, fewer people carry cash. Just as importantly, more people are choosing to shop online. Fewer cash customers. Dwindling foot traffic. Two of the very things a successful Red Kettle Campaign depend on! Often we look for answers to why there are fewer gifts by analyzing...

The Power of Habits

Habits make life easier. And better. Habits allow us to do things almost without thinking, certainly without deliberation.  The power of habit in driving behavior is amazing. Evidence of consumer marketing and merchandising is everywhere. Grocery chains place high-profit merchandise near the entrance and directly to the right because most people habitually turn right when entering a store. The lush displays of fresh fruits and vegetables are near the entry as well because they appeal to the shopper’s habitual desire to eat healthy. By the time he reaches the taco chip aisle he will already have been satisfied with the choice made to be healthy, and be ready to indulge in a salty snack. A new habit is formed. Charles Duhigg in his “New York Times” bestseller “The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business,” explodes the notion that people make decisions when they are...