The Mikuska Group  

The RFP shake-down

Why do charitable organizations think it’s appropriate to ask for a donation or pro-bono work in an RFP?

Not that we have any intention of responding to a request for proposal, but my blood still boils when I read an often used clause that goes something like this:

“X Organization is a registered charity which provides funds for research, programs and other activities which promote and advance the health of all members of the community. Our organization is able to engage the citizens of the province in philanthropy by working with donors and partner suppliers. As such, we ask that you please indicate your company’s interest in supporting our organization through philanthropy or sponsorship: e.g. direct discount, no-charge services, etc.”

I call it the RFP shakedown. Where else do you see the beginning of a business relationship where you’re already being asked to do free work (ok, I know graphic designers get this all the time, too) or give money back?

Consulting work is similar to philanthropy in that both are based on trusted relationships. When you engage a consultant, you’re making an investment in your organization. In turn, we provide guidance based on our experience and expertise, and we are fairly compensated for the value we bring.

If, in the course of our relationship, we are moved to make a donation, we may do so, and we often do. But don’t ask us to make that part of any proposal or contract.

Julie Mikuska.


Hits and misses from annual appeals

It’s that time of year again when I reflect on appeals received over the past year. As in the past, there were some good ones, some just okay and others truly awful.

Let’s start with what didn’t work:

Being too abstract. It’s really hard to get excited about inclusion and diversity. Or advancing learning and creativity. Or re-imagining our role as a museum. The problem is, I just can’t see myself in these concepts. I need stories and problems to solve.

The problem is too big. How can I “bring help and hope to millions of people living with drought”?   Yikes, how will my $10/month solve that?

The ask is to buy a calendar, become a member and help achieve the same goal as last year. No appeal to my heart or my desire to a make a difference in the world. And no, I’m not buying calendars for my friends and family. And I don’t care about helping you raise $6,000.

Using statistics to show impact. “We give away over 190,000 bowls of soup and 240,000 cups of coffee each year.” Interesting statistic – is that good or bad? What’s the problem to be solved and how can I, as one person, make a difference? Better to tell me a story about someone who comes for soup and coffee.

Telling a story but failing to tell me I’m the hero. A few organizations have jumped on the storytelling bandwagon without closing the loop and putting the donor in the story as the one who’s making any success possible. Remember – the story is the vehicle to tell donors about the difference they’re making in the world. Not the difference the organization is making.

And now with what did work:

Liberal sprinkling of YOU throughout the letter. Key to getting my attention!

  • We can all be proud of our museum and what the future holds, thanks to you.
  • Your support is the wind (and wind-machine!) beneath our wings – we could not enjoy our success without you.
  • You know that something so simple – learning to cook – can be life-changing.

Strong calls to action.

  • You can help. Join me, with a monthly gift of $10, $15 or $25.
  • Click here to donate now.
  • I am asking you to join me and once again give your most generous donation. A gift of $50, $75, $100 or any amount you can give would be greatly appreciated.

There’s still a lot more that you can do in your appeals. Tug at my heartstrings, make me mad, make me sad – get a reaction!

Julie Mikuska.


Insurance is not just for you

A tragic story out of Cuba this week underscores the importance of having the right travel insurance for your needs – and also for the needs of your family and loved ones back home.

The death of two parents is hard enough to bear. Add to that the necessity to ask others to help pay for bringing their bodies home makes the situation much harder. Figuring out how to bring loved ones home is even harder.

Most reputable insurance companies offer plans that will cover the cost of bringing remains home, as well as a help line staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They will help arrange for the return home, but also will cover costs to have the body prepared and the cost of standard casket or urn.

Insurance can also cover the cost of sending someone to identify the body including airfare and some expenses, including covering that person with emergency medical insurance.

Even in a medical emergency with a less tragic outcome, the assistance centre can provide a number of services, including but not limited to:

  • a referral to a doctor, hospital or other health care provider
  • monitoring your emergency and keeping your family informed
  • translation and interpreter services
  • arranging for return transportation home when medically necessary.

Of course, no one goes on vacation expecting not to return. But consider that your insurance is bringing peace of mind to your family. The devastating impact of any medical emergency goes far beyond the person in medical distress.

Consider your insurance an investment in your family’s well-being.

Julie Mikuska.


Blog Archives

Articles By Category