In an eye-opening post, Seth Godin looks at The problem with "global warming". He asks why global warming, "what might be the greatest threat ever to the future of mankind," gets so little attention or action.
His answer? The problem's name:
Global is good. Warm is good. . . . How can "global warming" be bad? I'm not being facetious. If the problem were called "Atmosphere cancer" or "Pollution death" the entire conversation would be framed in a different way.
How many of the causes we care about have this problem? How often do we let a neutral or even inappropriately positive terms color our causes?
Think of the problem that's usually called "third world poverty." Doesn't sound like much, does it? Something sociologists might study. Yet it's probably the greatest cause of human suffering that's ever been. It directly kills millions every year and keeps billions trapped in suffering and hopelessnes. It creates a clear and constant danger to us all.
And yet most of the time third world poverty gets little notice, and it only captures the hearts of a small group of people.
Then, every once in a while, one piece of the third world poverty problem rises up and gets renamed -- usually as a "disaster" of some kind. Awareness skyrockets. Donations go through the roof. Suddenly, huge numbers of Americans become compassionate and involved.
The death-toll from everyday dull-sounding "third world poverty" dwarfs that of disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.
What are you going to do about that?
Let the dispassionate nomenclature you've inherited from boring people frame your issue? Or try to change it so the problems you want to solve actually sound like problems?
Your donors want to make a difference. But they have to know there's a problem before they'll be motivated to help solve it.