The Mikuska Group  

Thank you is just about thanking, yet so much more

It’s been a mixed bag as far as thank you letters and gift acknowledgements on my gifts to charities this year. Some have gone so far as to weaken my resolve to give to them next year. Others have given me cause to give again. Yet others have left me indifferent.

Here are some of the results:

The good:

  • A handwritten card with a personal note along with a receipt for my gift, sent within a week.
  • A lovely personal letter sent the next day from the executive director for a gift made through (the receipt came immediately through Canada Helps).
  • An acknowledgement and receipt sent the day I dropped off my cheque.

The bad and ugly:

  • No greeting. No “Dear Julie” to catch my attention. In the same letter, they said they look forward to my continued support in the future.
  • My gift to one of the largest campaigns in the city went unacknowledged for months (they had cashed the cheque promptly, though). When I e-mailed to inquire about a receipt, they said it would be coming in the new year.
  • A member-based charity sent a tax receipt for a portion of the membership that was a gift, but again, many months after the initial payment was made.

Really, a thank you is very simple. Think of what your mother taught you – sit down and write to Aunt Ruth for her birthday gift right after you got it. The longer you wait, the less likely Aunt Ruth is to send you another one.

Sending a thank you is telling the donor they’re important. And a well-written thank you letter tells them they’re really important. But even a prompt, less well-written letter is much, much better than a great one months after the gift.

Even if you can’t get a receipt generated promptly (and that’s a subject for another day), send the thank you anyway and let the donor know when to expect the receipt.

It’s not about the transaction. It’s about how you make donors feel. So make them feel important and say thank you as soon as they make their gift.

Julie Mikuska


Tis the season

It’s easy at this time of the year to get caught up in the frenzy that is the holiday season, and to become cynical about all the hoopla that surrounds it. Today I remembered there’s an antidote for that.

As co-chair of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Program, I get notice of, and have the opportunity to attend, Ribbon-Cutting ceremonies for Chamber members. It’s a great way to invite the wider community to celebrate a grand opening, an open house or other occasions.

Today Chamber member Living Real Estate celebrated two years in business and a grand opening of their new office. We listened to owners Jason Coward and Lynne Heintz talk about how they built community support and philanthropy into their business model. They held some fundraising events, and then invited representatives from three local charities, Agape Table, Children’s Wish and the Cheer Board, to attend the ceremonies today. Each was presented with a generous donation from the proceeds.

I also heard from Agape Table that the entire office had been “angels”, quietly showing up to volunteer one day when there was a shortage of people to help. One agent explained that even though they were helping out, their act of kindness was really for themselves. That is the definition of a joyful gift.

So therein lies the antidote for cynicism and frenzy. Go and help others, generate some “warm and fuzzies” and do some good in your community.

We’ll all be better for it.

Laura Mikuska


Why we need a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women

I’m not aboriginal. But that’s exactly why I’ve lent my voice to those calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.

If we are to create a society that values all human life, we need to understand why aboriginal women and girls are devalued. To those who say,”There are already so many studies, we already know what we need to know,” I say that the studies to date have not prevented the violence.

A national inquiry is not only for aboriginal people. It’s also for people like me. I need to understand so I can learn and be part of preventing violence and lifting people up to their potential. To be part of making it possible for all people to achieve happiness, to live life without fear, and to be valued for their unique contributions.

And it’s not enough to be proud of solving the crimes once they’ve occurred. That’s of little solace to the families who want desperately for their daughter, sister, mother, aunt, and granddaughter to be with them, to have never had the crime occur in the first place. No law-and-order agenda will help after the fact.

“They” are us. And it’s up to us to figure it out together. The first step is a national inquiry. Bravo to the Trudeau government for fulfilling their promise to create one.

Julie Mikuska


Blog Archives

Articles By Category