The Mikuska Group  

Flourishing Gardens

We’re excited to announce that our client, Gardens on Tenth in Altona, has officially opened their brand-new residence for seniors in their community.

An excerpt from the official opening program:

The Gardens” – FIVE years from visioning to reality! Five years ago 50 individuals and organizations in our community got together to visualize the needs and challenges for Seniors of today AND tomorrow!

TODAY we are celebrating the results of that visioning day…The Gardens…a 66 suite facility providing independent living with services for Seniors in our community and area, allowing them to age in place, with dignity, self-respect and privacy.”

They approached us in 2012 with their dream – to raise $3 million to support affordable housing for everyone in the community as part of the overall $18 million project. They knew that their dream needed expertise to make it happen, and we were engaged as campaign counsel for the project.

The Campaign Cabinet, chaired by David Wiebe, was supported by two staff members of the organization. The rest of the team, including Campaign Director Menno H. Friesen, were all volunteers – over 75 in total. At the official opening, David described what their biggest learning curve was during the campaign:

“We had some, no, let’s be honest and say a great deal of reluctance to believe that you have to have “the right person to ask the right person at the right time for the right amount in the right way”. . .but believe me it worked!”.

They clearly applied this principle to the rest of the campaign, ensuring they had the right people in place at the right time to carry it out. They have raised $2.7 million of their goal, and expect to raise the rest in the coming months.

We are proud of our contribution to the accomplishment of this determined group – congratulations!

Julie and Laura Mikuska


Storytelling trumps statistics, every time

When you’re reaching out to donors, be it in direct mail, on websites, in newsletters or gratitude reports, resist the temptation to haul out the stats to wow them with the magnitude of a problem. They mostly don’t care. That’s because they give with their heart and no amounts of large numbers and percentages will convince them to give.

Here’s an excerpt from the Shine A Light Campaign (World University Services of Canada):

Why Girls?

  • In refugee camp classes, boys outnumber girls 4:1
  • 62 million girls of primary age are out of school.
  • The gender gap in education is biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, with 23 million girls completely missing out on school.
  • In many African countries, only one in four girls has a chance of receiving a secondary education. At the post-secondary level, there are twice as many male students as female ones.
  • Barriers can be religious or cultural, but are more often simple constraints such as lack of teachers, uniforms, textbooks, or sanitary supplies.

It’s pretty hard to see how anyone could have an impact with their donation with 62 million in need. So most will choose not to give.

But if the campaign could tell the compelling story of one girl, with details about her circumstances, and how the donor can make a difference in her life, it becomes personal, especially if the donor is interested in girls’ education.

Here’s a testimonial from Free the Children:

Meet Nannan

Nannan Ma is very grateful for the work Free The Children has done in her community. Without it, her life might be totally different. The 11-year-old, who lives with her family in Malizhuang, China, started going to school when she was seven. When she was 10, though, she had to leave school to help her parents. They run a small restaurant and, for a whole year, Nannan worked as a waitress to help out.

Then Free The Children built a new school in Malizhuang, with a much larger student capacity, and Nannan got a second chance at an education. “The leader of our community persuaded my parents to send me back to school and to let me finish my primary school education,” she says.

Now Nannan is back in school and learning math, physical education, Mandarin and arts. She likes learning and understands how important it is that she gets an education. “Education can help me and my family to live a better life in the future,” she says.

Nannan hopes to complete her education and become a teacher. As she explains, “I want to… give knowledge to other people.” She is thankful for all that Free The Children has done to help her achieve that dream. “[Free The Children] built a good new school for us and gave us the chance to go to school,” she says, adding, “Without Free The Children, I might not be back at school.”

Statistics don’t have emotion. To connect with donors, you must reach out with stories to reach donors’ hearts. And the story must show how with their help, the world can change for one person.

Julie Mikuska.


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