So I’m driving in my car last Sunday, listening to the Buffalo Bills game on the radio. During a commercial break, the station plays a public service announcement from an organization that provides meals to low-income seniors in the Buffalo area.

So far so good…

The PSA then closes with the words “making a difference in our community”.

Gag me with a spoon!

These words, my friends, are pure drivel.

Making a difference’ is one of the most over-used and poorly-thought phrases we use in our sector. Instead of telling me that you make a difference, why don’t you tell me how you make that difference? And for whom?

Community’ is another one of those words. Instead of giving me the generic word, why don’t you tell me exactly what that community is?

Another word that drives me nuts is ‘support’. What exactly does that mean? Does it mean cash donations? Does it mean volunteer hours? Does it mean evangelizing the charity and cause to friends and neighbours? Spreading the word?

How many times have you been driving behind a car that sports one of those ribbon bumper stickers that reads “we support our troops”? What is the person behind the wheel trying to say to me? Is she writing letters to lonely soldiers? Is she sending them home-made Nanaimo bars and hand-knit mittens? Is she making donations to the Canadian Legion? My guess is that she’s not actually doing anything.

She’s just throwing a slogan into my line of sight – and wasting my mental bandwidth.

So let’s try something radical. Let’s just say what we mean – and mean what we say. I think everyone will be happier that way.