Call for restoration of public trust in charities

Make-A-Wish foundation granted record 210 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses last year, spending €1.83m – up from €1.42m in 2012

Amelia Deane (10), Co Meath (left) and Ashleigh Kiernan (11),  Lucan, Co Dublin, at the launch of Make-A-Wish Ireland’s first annual report. The charity granted a record 210 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in 2013, an average of four wishes a week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Amelia Deane (10), Co Meath (left) and Ashleigh Kiernan (11), Lucan, Co Dublin, at the launch of Make-A-Wish Ireland’s first annual report. The charity granted a record 210 wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses in 2013, an average of four wishes a week. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 18:31

A lack of public trust in the charity sector must be re-established for charities such as the Make-A-Wish foundation to continue their work, the organisation has said. Chief executive Susan O’Dwyer said yesterday the charity, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses, had witnessed a 30 per cent drop in funding this year. “This is having a direct impact on our ability to grant wishes.”

Ms O’Dwyer said there had been a “severe decline” in fundraising events organised by the public, something she said was “directly attributed to a lack of trust from the public in relation to the entire sector”, a reference to the recent controversy over the salaries of senior charity executives.

She said the charity welcomed the recent appointment of a charity regulator. “What I would hope now is that the regulator will work with leaders within the sector to ensure that we can re-engage that public trust that is so badly needed. I would urge the public to realise that they can trust Make-A-Wish . . . we have over 200 children on our waiting list . . . who need to have their wish granted for the whole family to experience . . . those wonderful memories that are so badly needed.”

Organisation chairman Kevin Keegan said the charity had published annual accounts for the first time this year as it was “very minded about what has happened in the sector and feel it is very important to differentiate ourselves and to talk about Make-A-Wish, our governance and transparency”.

The foundation granted 210 wishes last year, the most in the 21 years in which it has been in Ireland, spending €1.83 million – up from €1.42 million in 2012 – €126,000 of which came from its reserves.

The charity receives no Government funding and relies on corporate and private donations, receiving 48 per cent of its funding from these sources last year. A further 19 per cent came from donations in kind, while 16 per cent came from fundraising events arranged by the public.