The Make a Wish America Foundation
The Make a Wish America Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization that strives to grant a wish to any child suffering from a life threatening medical illness. It operates in the 50 states as well as in Puerto Rico and Guam. Its goal is to make children feel stronger, more energetic, and more willing and able to battle their life threatening diseases through the granting of their favorite wish.
There are several categories of wishes that Make a Wish America grants: I wish to be, I wish to give, I wish to go, I wish to have, and I wish to meet. To be eligible for a wish, the child must be between the ages of 2.5 and 17 years of age at time of referral, have a life threatening medical condition, and not have received any wish from another wish granting organization. The non profit grants a wish every 37 minutes on average. It granted more than 14, 200 wishes in 2014 alone, with each wish costing on average $9,425 as of August 2014.
One of their projects was granting my cousin Ethan’s wish after he was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis. Juvenile dermatomyositis is a rare inflammatory disease of the muscle, skin, and blood vessels that causes muscle weakness and a skin rash. It affects approximately 3 in 1 million children. Ethan has always been a jolly kid, but when his disorder began to appear at around age 3, he started developing a reddish-purple rash around his eyes, knees, and nail beds and got tired more easily when playing. He had trouble climbing stairs and getting into the car. As his muscle weakness progressed, he began having trouble sitting up, sitting down, and had a very hard time playing on the playground equipment. “I would hold his hand so tight because I worried about him falling.” His mother, Karen, told me. “He would fall because of his muscle weakness.” As the disease progressed, Ethan also developed calcinosis, or the formation of calcium deposits in soft tissue. Ethan was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis in July of 2014. To control his illness, Ethan takes IVIG, Cellcept, a weekly shot of methotrexate, prednisone (an oral steroid), and folic acid. That’s a lot of medication for a young child! He also must avoid UV rays as much as possible to control his rash, which means he can’t play outside like most kids can. Ethan and the family were having a really hard time.
Then, they learned about the Make a Wish Foundation. The foundation granted Ethan’s wish of spending Christmas with his dad, who was on military duty in Korea, at Disneyland! The foundation helped Ethan feel special when he was beginning to realize he was different than most kids. He got to enjoy his family and Disneyland all at once. Even after granting his wish, the Make a Wish Foundation keeps track of Ethan to make sure he is doing well and to invite him to special events the foundation hosts. Ethan’s wish has truly had a profound impact on his emotional health and has helped bring his family together to make happy memories.
Financially, the Make a Wish Foundation is fairly sound. They made $77 million in revenue in 2014, most of which came from donations (about $66 million). About 74.7% of their expenditures went towards program expenses, while 14.7% and 10.6% went towards fundraising and administrative costs, respectively. $58 million were spent on program expenses, including $43 million spent on chapters to fund wishes for children. $8.6 million were spent on fundraising for the foundation. The Make a Wish Foundation spent about $1 million on professional fundraising fees. Lastly, the foundation spent about $7.9 million in administrative fees. The board of directors consists of 25 independent members. The President and CEO was compensated $503,193 in 2014 for his services from the Make a Wish Foundation. In total, the foundation spent approximately $75 million in expenditures, giving it a net revenue of $2 million for the 2013-2014 fiscal year, up from -$1.6 million from the previous fiscal year. All this and much more information can be found on charitynavigator.org and on the organization’s IRS Form 990 (also available on Charity Navigator).
Donations to the Make a Wish America Foundation can be made through Ethan’s fundraising site at https://www.kintera.org/faf/donorReg/donorPledge.asp?ievent=1150487&supId=433880934 or through the Make a Wish Foundation Webpage.
Photo courtesy of donation page.