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Charity on the brink: Make-A-Wish Pacific facing shutdown due to donation shortfall


By Ron Rocky Coloma 


The Make-A-Wish Foundation, a beacon of hope for critically ill children across the Pacific Islands, is currently facing its most formidable challenge. A significant drop in charitable donations has put the organization in a precarious position, with the potential for permanent closure looming if funds are not raised in the coming weeks.

“Times have been tough for all of us - charities included. Make-A-Wish in the Pacific Islands is facing its toughest time yet,” Make-a-Wish Pacific said in a press release. “This is our last chance.”

The issue of declining charitable donations is not isolated to the Pacific region. According to the Giving USA report, 2022 saw a 3.4 percent decline in charitable giving in the United States, marking only the fourth time in four decades that donations did not increase year-over-year.

When adjusted for inflation, the drop is a staggering 10.5 percent, underscoring the economic challenges many are facing. This trend is particularly troubling for nonprofits that serve vulnerable populations, such as Make-A-Wish Pacific, which has seen an uptick in requests for help even as donations dwindle.

Between 2017 and 2021, the charity's Pacific chapter granted 34 children's wishes in Fiji and Samoa.

Several factors contribute to the decline in charitable donations. The economic downturn, marked by a significant drop in the stock market, has left many potential donors with less disposable income. Additionally, inflation has eroded the purchasing power of individuals and families, making it more difficult for them to allocate funds to charitable causes.

There is also a noticeable shift in people’s attitudes toward charities. With the rise of digital fundraising and an increase in the number of charitable organizations, donors are more scrutinizing about where their money goes.

They demand transparency and want to see tangible impacts from their contributions. This scrutiny, while beneficial for accountability, can also slow down donation rates as potential donors take more time to decide where to give.

“Without raising some serious funds in the next month, we will be forced to shut our doors. For good,” Make-a-Wish Pacific said.

The charity’s Pacific chapter covers a wide range of islands, including Guam, Fiji, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Over the years, the foundation has granted numerous wishes, providing critically ill children with experiences that bring hope, joy and strength during their most challenging times.

“Make-A-Wish Pacific grants wishes to kids living with critical illnesses in the Pacific, to enrich their lives with hope, strength, and joy. The impact of a wish is huge,” Make-a-Wish said. “When children are battling a critical illness, so much of normal childhood is taken away from them — it’s exhausting, both emotionally and physically. Wishes help to improve a child’s quality of life and produce better health outcomes.”

For many of these children, a wish granted by the foundation may be their first toy, their first opportunity to travel, or their first time experiencing an activity they’ve dreamed of.

To address the donation shortfall, Make-A-Wish Pacific has ramped up its fundraising activities. It has launched online campaigns, organized community events and reached out to corporate partners for support.

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