The Mikuska Group  

There are no miracles…Squirrel!

If it sounds too good to be true, well, it probably is.

We learned this maxim early – our parents didn’t want us chasing after things that weren’t going to provide any reward, and worse, could get us into trouble. So why do so many nonprofit organizations chase after the squirrel that comes into their peripheral vision?

We see boards and staff who are presented with a “sure thing” – sell these books, gift cards, chocolates, cookie dough, tickets, etc. and you’ll get a cut of the profits. Their eyes glaze over when they think of all the money that’s going to roll in. And they buy it hook, line and sinker.

I worked for an organization that partnered with the local baseball team to sell season ticket and multi-game packages to its members, with the organization getting a cut. We were thrilled! Think of how this will raise our profile, we thought. Our members will jump all over this – everyone knows seniors love baseball! We jumped in and spent considerable time and effort to promote the opportunity. The result? Fewer than 10 of our over 10,000 members bought the package.

Another idea for a fundraising event that we adopted came from a corporation that insisted it was a “sure thing” and would bring us great amounts of money. The result, after again committing time, effort and funds, was $1,000.

Whew. We took a deep breath, got some advice and proceeded to run a campaign that connected with our members. We made them the hero and they came through to the tune of over $100,000. We changed to relationship fundraising, rather selling something. The result was they felt invested in the success of the organization.

Quit chasing squirrels and focus on your donor relationships. You’ll be a lot further ahead.

Laura Mikuska


Your mother was right

Do you remember when you received a gift for your birthday or another holiday from a relative, and your mother insisted you sit down and write a thank-you note? Can you remember thinking what a pain in the neck it seemed at the time? Turns out, she was teaching you about courtesy. Common courtesy.

Acknowledging a gift in a timely manner shows you have respect for the giver. That’s what your mother tried instill in you. She knew that your aunt or grandma or third cousin would appreciate this gesture, and would be likely to give again.

Will you practice common courtesy with your donors?

Laura Mikuska


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