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Charities Feel The Pinch From Economic Downturn

8 December 2008


As the squeeze goes on consumer spending, charities like Make-A-Wish New Zealand are finding that they now have to work harder and smarter to attract donations.

Make-A-Wish New Zealand Fundraising Manager, Laura Harrison, said that the key to success in harder economic times was to have well established relationships. The charity was fortunate enough to be the latest recipient of the Sovereign Sunshine programme – an online fundraising initiative – with relationships built up over many years helping to secure that result.

“Being proactive in establishing good relationships with donors is crucial to success. Also, important is providing something that is tangible – fulfilling a wish – which people can often relate to, helps greatly.”

Laura said charities were also having to ‘think outside the square’ in order to attract public support.

“Charities need to plan and execute a well thought out and cleverly marketed awareness strategy.

“That’s one of the important reasons we became involved in the Sovereign Sunshine programme.”

Laura said Make-A-Wish signed on for the Sovereign Sunshine programme approximately 6 months ago, as part of its ongoing efforts to explore all possible fundraising options.

“That has paid off for us in the form of a $15,000 donation which will be used to grant wishes for some of the over 160 children that we help each year.”

Make-A-Wish is the only charity in New Zealand that is dedicated to granting wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.

“Granting the cherished wish of an ill child is something very special for everyone involved in the process.”

As part of the application process, two Make-A-Wish volunteers meet with the child and their family to discuss their special wish.

“Wishes typically fall into one of four categories: to meet; to be; to have or to go,” Laura said.

“A wish can be for anything from meeting the cast of Outrageous Fortune through to simply wanting a new bike.”

Aside from donations from the public, Make-A-Wish calls upon its national network of over 100 volunteers to “work their magic” and make a child’s wish literally come true.

Carmen Whitaker of Christchurch and Natalie Schwenke of Auckland both know first hand the positive impact Make-A-Wish can have on children’s lives.

Carmen’s six year old son, Angus, recently had his wish of owning a Miniature Schnauzer granted by Make-A-Wish. Natalie’s sons, Arnie 8 and Jack 6, went on their first overseas trip to Australia – courtesy of the charity.

Carmen said Angus was born with a genetic liver condition and had to have a liver transplant when he was only 16 months old.

“He’s now a very energetic young boy, but still has to undergo regular blood and health checks.

“The process of getting Angus’ wish granted was a breeze. I wrote a letter to Make-A-Wish telling them about Angus and within a week I received confirmation that his wish was going to be granted.

“The volunteers from Make-A-Wish made the occasion especially memorable by providing Angus with toys and food for his puppy called Theo, and a special dinosaur cake to mark the occasion.

“Theo is a real asset to our family and brings so much joy to all our lives. I can’t imagine life without him now and neither can Angus,” Carmen said.

Natalie’s two sons both have an illness which requires them to visit Starship Hospital every six months for tests.

“Make-A-Wish went all out for the boys to make sure that they enjoyed every minute of the trip to Australia. Not only were we upgraded to business class for our flights, the boys even got to meet the pilot.

“Further to that, the charity also arranged for Jack and Arnie to meet with All Blacks Mils Muliaina and Stephen Donald.”

Natalie said without Make-A-Wish the holiday would not have been possible due to the family’s financial circumstances.

Laura Harrison said while people might increasingly feel unable to give financially they could make a difference to children like Natalie and Carmen’s sons, by simply voting online for their favourite charity via the Sovereign Sunshine programme.

Sovereign Head of Marketing and Product Management, Vena Crawley, said the programme was established to help under-resourced children’s charities by providing them with much needed funding.

“Each month the public gets to decide via online voting which charity will receive funds raised through the programme. To date, we have donated over $100,000 to seven different New Zealand children’s charities.”

To find out more about the programme or to vote for a charity go to


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