Not long ago, the Center for Investigative Reporting and Tampa Bay Times released a list of the “Worst 50” U.S. charities in terms of the amount of money those charities paid out to professional solicitors.
Two of the top three charities on the “Worst 50” list had “Wish” in their name, and both helped the wishes of children with disabilities come true. Those two charities alone raised about $223 million over the last ten years through professional solicitors (telemarketers) and paid those solicitors about $173 million. So only $50 million of $223 million raised actually went to a good cause-helping children. Perhaps you gave money to one of those charities and didn’t realize you were giving more to telemarketers than kids.
Those two “Worst 50” charities have names similar to Make-A-Wish, which was not on the list. Make-A-Wish is the best known and most respected “wish” organization for children, and people when making donations often confuse the other two organizations with it. Make-A-Wish began spontaneously in 1980 after a group of Arizona Department of Public Safety workers helped make the wish of a 7-year-old boy with leukemia come true.
Asked what makes his organization different from the other groups, Make-A-Wish National Communications Manager Josh deBerge said in a telephone interview, “We are deeply devoted to our mission, which is granting the wish of every eligible child. We serve a population of children with life-threatening medical conditions. From the moment our employees and volunteers step into the office the first time, they keep and maintain that child focus.”
In 2012, nearly 80 percent of every dollar donated to Make-A-Wish went directly to expenses related to “wish-granting” activities. The bad publicity involving other groups with copycat names, said deBerge, creates confusion among potential donors and indirectly “damages” what his organization does. Make-A-Wish grants 14,000 wishes annually to children with life-threatening medical conditions. It has 62 chapters that can help a child in any community in the U.S. It’s by far the nation’s top wish-granting organization.
Said deBerge, “If you talk to most Make-A-Wish kids out there, and their parents, and the individuals involved in a wish, they will tell you it does change lives. It can be a game changer in a child’s life. And as for working here, I’ve never seen a place where the people are so passionate about what they do.”