The Mikuska Group  

Thoughts on the federal Liberal convention

I recently volunteered at the Liberal Party of Canada’s biennial convention, held in Winnipeg for the first time in 36 years. Last time, I was able to see the first Prime Minister Trudeau, this time, the second PM Trudeau. It was a markedly different experience.

What struck me this time was the diversity of the delegates, staff and volunteers. Every age, gender, and ethnicity was represented. I met two recent immigrant volunteers who were not even eligible to vote in the 2015 election, yet were highly engaged with the Liberal party. One had since become a Canadian citizen, and the other was intending to apply. Both were impressed that they could have access to, and speak with, the Members of Parliament who attended the convention. They were amazed that MPs were “regular people”, able to mingle with the masses, unencumbered by body guards and an entourage.

It also struck me how valued the volunteers and donors are by the MPs, the Prime Minister and the staff. “Because of you” was a phrase heard often – without the thousands of volunteers and donors who worked tirelessly on the election, there would not have been a Liberal majority victory. Even as a convention volunteer, I was thanked countless times by the staff and delegates alike.

We in the social impact sector can take a page from this experience. Engaging our donors and volunteers, celebrating our successes together, and thanking them again and again – this is how we can change the world.

Laura Mikuska


Tell me everything and I’ll see nothing

I was excited to receive an envelope of material from a social impact organization that I supported last year. As it looked like there was a lot of stuff in the package, I looked forward to pulling it apart and reading it.

Alas, it fell flat. It contained:

  • An invitation to the AGM and notes about the agenda and who is standing for the board of directors
  • An ask letter that paid tribute to another donor
  • An annual newsletter that talked about the organization’s impact (but not about mine as a donor), plus listed all the donors and sponsors over the past year
  • An envelope thanking me for providing a stamp
  • A pledge card with a focus on privacy and not recognizing donors in their annual newsletter

And why is that a bad thing?

There was no focus to the package and it was not donor-centred. It was a big collection of everything the organization wanted to tell me about the good work they are doing in the community. But it didn’t involve me, celebrate me or tell me the ways I’m doing good in the world by having an impact on individuals.

There’s a whole lot of “we” in the materials and very little “you.” Even in the letter asking for my gift. And while there were two stories talking about impact in the newsletter, neither of them said “Because of you, this happened,” or “Without you, the opportunity for this person to have a future wouldn’t happen.”

I don’t need to see corporate logos in my newsletter. That’s recognition for them, not me. I need stories about the difference I am making in the world.

Separate your messages i.e. don’t send a letter asking for gifts with an invitation to the AGM – send it separately with a pledge card. Send a donor-focused, story-filled newsletter to donors telling them they’re your heroes, not a bragging newsletter about how great you are.

Don’t just dump a whole pile of messages into one package to save on postage. You’ll get better results by tailoring your messages. Because then I’ll be inclined to read what you send, instead of sending the lot to the recycling bin.

Julie Mikuska


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