The Mikuska Group  

When is it time to pack it in?

When is it time for an organization to hang up the cleats? Stop fighting the fight and dissolve or merge?

  • If the mission is no longer relevant i.e. the reasons for founding the organization have become obsolete.
  • If the organization’s mission is similar to others in the community.
  • If the funding has dried up, especially from governments, and there is no natural base of support i.e. donor or member relationships don’t exist or are few in number.
  • If opportunities for earned income are not viable e.g. sales, fees.
  • If the organization exists solely on projects and has no sustainable income.
  • If the mission is supported by only a handful of foundations.
  • If the volunteer base is aging and younger volunteers aren’t filling in, both in client service and on the board.
  • If the board is dysfunctional and relations with staff are sour.

Any one of these reasons may not be what makes an organization decide to dissolve or merge. But for some, it will be a combination.

The Manitoba Society of Seniors was founded in 1979 by volunteers who wanted to give seniors a voice. At the time, seniors needed advocacy around pensions, housing, services and recreation. MSOS also provided services at low or no cost (tax preparation, financial counselling, photocopying), operated bus tours and published the MSOS Journal. It ran the popular 55 Plus Games. Membership, at one time as high as 10,000, provided steady income, and numerous volunteers worked in the office, at the games and served on regional councils.

In 2011, MSOS closed its doors and ceased operations, citing declining membership and revenues. Other organizations work with government to advocate for seniors’ issues, and offer services once offered by MSOS, including the 55 Plus Games. They ceased to be relevant to enough people to support it either as volunteers or as members and donors. Baby Boomers don’t see themselves needing advocacy by a seniors group as they are used to going after and getting what they want.

Deciding to stop operating is not failure if it’s done thoughtfully. If, for example, the need for services still exists in the community but an organization is unable to deliver on its own, a merger with a similar organization can allow for the work to continue. Or any remaining funds at dissolution can be given to an organization with a compatible mission.

If you’re struggling, ask yourselves why. If the conditions aren’t right to go on, then stop.

Laura Mikuska


Why do you need a travel agent anyway?

Now that you can book virtually any travel online, why would you need a travel agent? That just makes it more expensive, right?

Not so. In fact, travel agents as experts can help you get the best value for your vacation, and indeed help you get the vacation that’s right for you – not just a cheap getaway you found on a travel site.

Consider: booking anything more than a flight or hotel stay online and you are at the mercy of you don’t know what you don’t know.

For example, each cruise line has its own personality and caters to different ages and tastes. There are thousands of itineraries all over the world, on big ships, medium-sized ships, small ships and yachts, each with an array of shore excursions included or extra. You don’t want to end up on a Carnival Cruise if your own style runs to Holland America.

The same is true for land vacations. Do  you want a leisurely pace or an active one? Travel on your own or with a group? Figure out how to get from place to place or have a vacation designed for you?

If you’re booking directly with a cruise line, then you’re dealing with a reservations agent who may in fact have no experience cruising. When you book with a cruise specialist, you’re taking advantage of their knowledge and experience, and they are your representative with the cruise line. If anything goes wrong or you need to change something, you have someone in your corner if you work with a travel agent.

Your travel agent can also suggest destinations and itineraries you’ve never heard of – remember, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Cruise specialists, especially those affiliated with a travel consortium like Ensemble Travel Group, CAA or Expedia CruiseShipCenters, have access to amenities you won’t find if you’re looking on the web. So your cruise specialist may be able to get you onboard credit, a bottle of wine or some other perk just by booking through them.

It’s also very time-consuming to do all the research into your vacation. And you can find yourself missing out on an important detail that you didn’t know you needed to know, like flying into one terminal at Heathrow and discovering your next flight in 50 minutes is in another terminal, causing you to miss your flight.

Take the time to talk to the experts, in person or over the phone. They’ll ask you questions to find out how you like to travel and where you’d like to go. Then they’ll do the research, present some options, and have you on your way to your desired vacation.

You’ll be glad you did.

Julie Mikuska




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