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Make a wish

A new challenge for charities - how to replicate the Ice Bucket Challenge

The Make-A -Wish Foundation says that the face of charity donation has changed hugely in the past 12 months.

MakeAWishAnnualReport3 Outgoing Chairman Kevin Keegan with Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph Shane O'Neill Fennell Photograph

“What I would urge the public today is to realise that they can trust Make-A-Wish, and we would urge that you would continue to actually support this wonderful charity” – Susan O’Dwyer, Make-A-Wish CEO.

THE RECENT CHARITY scandals have contributed to a drop in the amount of donations made to charities across Ireland, according to The Wheel, a body which represents 950 charities.

One of those is the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which has just launched its first ever annual report.

It has released this so that people can see the inner financial workings of the charity – and also to appeal for donations. There are currently 200 children on the charity’s waiting list.

Fundraising down

Fundraising income is down 30% this year, which will have a direct impact on its ability to grant wishes to children. It will be able to grant 150 wishes, a drop of 30%.

In 2013, for the first time ever, Make-A-Wish had to dip into its reserve funds for €126,000 to help grant 210 wishes for ill children.

Ice Bucket Challenge

What do the staff at Make-A-Wish think about the Ice Bucket Challenge or No Make-Up Selfies, which have seen huge amounts of money raised for charities internationally?

“Every time a phenomenon like this comes up, you should see the staff in charities go ‘why didn’t we think of one of these things ourselves’, because the money that is raised is massive,” said Susan O’Dwyer, Chief Executive of Make-A-Wish.

Any form of fundraising is fantastic and means a huge amount to us – whether that’s €20 or €1,000. Every single bit helps.

She said they are trying to look at more sustainable fundraising, because with initiatives like the Ice Bucket Challenge, a lot of money comes in – “but how do you replace that for the next year?”

“We’re never going to diminish the quality [of wishes],” added O’Dwyer.

Funds in 2013

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In 2013, Make-A-Wish saw a “modest rise” in funds generated, at 5% (€87,000) to €1.7m.

External events is where it experienced a hit this year. This is where members of the public would have arranged fundraising. “We have seen a severe decline in this area,” said O’Dwyer.

That is something that really is directly attributed to lack of trust from the public in relation to the entire sector.

Make-A-Wish treasurer, Marie Joyce, noted that resources expended increased from €1.4m in 2012 to €1.8m in 2012, primarily driven by the cost of granting a further 81 wishes that year.

But it also saw a higher headcount of 12 staff instead of nine, which brought with it the resultant salary costs.

In an effort to boost funds, the charity introduced its own Wish Band Day in 2013 to encourage more grassroots funding.

“Public trust for those events is very important,” said Outgoing Chairman, Kevin Keegan, of their Wish Band Day.

People invest time and money, and that’s affecting how we grant wishes.

Keegan said Make-A-Wish has “always been a well regulated charity and benefit[s] from the governance standards and independent auditing of Make-A-Wish International”.

Make-A-Wish Ireland receives no government funding, and its board is voluntary and not paid expenses.

Keegan said that in the past seven years, the nature of fundraising has changed hugely.

In the last 12 months, you’re seeing that change even more so.

Read: ‘Drop in donations means we can’t grant as many kids’ wishes’>

Poll: Have you done the Ice Bucket Challenge?>

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