The Mikuska Group  

The power of thanks

When was the last time someone sent you a hand-written letter of thanks?

For me, it was a few minutes ago. I was tickled pink. Literally.









I received it from a thoughtful staff member at a social impact organization where I volunteer. She had to have returned to her desk after the function we attended yesterday, written the note and popped it in the mail. That realization alone made me feel really special!

We all know we need to say thanks, and say it often, but how many of us put this into action? I know how this made me feel – warm and fuzzy, appreciated and recognized. It reminded me why I volunteer there, and gave me a renewed sense of loyalty to their mission.

How are you making your volunteers feel?

Laura Mikuska


Time to think about your legacy

Do you have a valid and up-to-date will?

Yes, I’m talking to you. Not about donors leaving your organization a bequest.

We all need a will that sets out our wishes after we die, including who gets what part of your assets and who will be asked to be executor. It’s really important to do this while you are able and to not put it off until it’s too late and the division of your legacy is left to strangers or squabbling relatives.

Think, too, of your own legacy and which social impact organizations have meaning to you. You may not be able to give large donations while you’re living, but you, too, can make a huge impact through your estate.

The Winnipeg Foundation, along with the Manitoba Bar Association and the Public Guardian and Trustee of Manitoba, is presenting the annual Will Week May 2 to 6, 2016. Take advantage of a host of seminars to learn how to create a will, update your existing will and how to arrange for charitable giving in your will.

The Winnipeg Foundation is also holding Bequest 101 sessions in May and early June.

So, if you have a will that represents your wishes and creates your legacy – wonderful! If not, now’s the time to act.

Julie Mikuska.



Canada Helps donors more generous – what that means for you

The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy released the results of its biennial survey of Canadian donors in March entitled What Canadian Donors Want.

For the first time this year the foundation partnered with CanadaHelps, a national social impact organization that promotes charitable giving in Canada, and provides a portal for charities’ online giving. They surveyed CanadaHelps donors and compared their giving behaviours to the general population.

Some interesting results:

  • 77% of CanadaHelps donors give to six or more causes compared to only 17 percent of the general population.
  • They are more likely than general population donors  to say they are very knowledgeable about the charities they support (38% compared to 22%)
  • Like their peers across Canada, CanadaHelps donors who gave in response to an invitation or post on social media say they gave because the posts came from someone they know.
  • They also are invested in charities that they know to be efficient with donor dollars and effective in their work, but to a much more significant extent.  82% of CanadaHelps donors are motivated by a clear purpose compared to 53% of the general population.
  • The largest proportion of CanadaHelps donors say their most recent contribution was to a place of worship and they are more likely than their counterparts in the general population to have donated to this kind of charity.
  • They are much more likely to take a proactive approach to selecting a charity – 67% vs 33% waiting to be asked.
  • They are also more likely to have given to international charities and to causes advancing the arts, culture, and the environment.

What does mean for your organization?

  • Donors give when it’s easy to do so. If you make it hard to give by not having online giving, you’re turning away donors.
  • Donors are seeking out information – how well are you presenting yours?
  • People give and give again to organizations with a clear purpose, with well-articulated impact.
  • Donors give to multiple charities – don’t assume someone won’t give just because they’re a donor elsewhere.
  • Your brand and network on social media can be a powerful driver of invitations to give – if done well.

The survey results have lots of fascinating details on donors’ actions – I recommend you check them out. There’s also a recorded webinar discussing the results, along with the presentation slides.

Do you know what your donors want?

Julie Mikuska



I received an appeal from a large organization this week. Notwithstanding how awful the appeal was, what struck me first was the fact that they sent it to my former address. I haven’t lived there for almost 3 years.

People move all the time. Many of your donors are among them. If you expect to maintain a relationship with them, you must make an effort to make sure you’re sending your appeal to their current address. There are ways to do this:

  • Annual donor surveys – ask donors if the information you have on file is correct. Also ask how and when they would like to hear from you.
  • Canada Post has a National Change of Address (NCOA) Mover Data Service. Use it to check your database to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.
  • Direct mail companies will also use the NCOA database when you contract them to do your direct mail.

By not making an effort to check contact information, not only do you lose money on mailing costs, you also risk losing the donor.

That’s why I’m moving on.

Laura Mikuska


Blog Archives

Articles By Category