Every year, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington celebrates a very special event. The President’s Lunch is an intimate occasion that allows the foundation to celebrate their most generous supporters and board members, as well as showcase their milestones and next plans. This year I was honored to be invited as part of a team that conducted a successful outreach campaign and as a volunteer for Spanish speaking families.

On the 30th anniversary the mission of Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington remains the same: grant a wish to every eligible child.

However, they had some challenges reaching eligible children in the remote areas of Alaska and Washington and in communities where English is not the primary language. At this very lunch a few years back, Make-A-Wish demonstrated this need and asked for additional support for the referral and outreach program, so they could reach these children – starting with Spanish-speaking communities.

Thanks to generous response to this important organizational need, their referral and outreach program grew and I have been lucky enough to take part.

As part of an award-winning marketing and outreach team, I conducted market research to find out just how many people knew about Make-A-Wish and identify how best to serve them. Some key findings:

  • Spanish-speaking families want to speak to someone on the phone, so having a bilingual staff member and wish-granting volunteers is vital.
  • The amount of information available to wish families in Spanish was very limited. We audited the Make-A-Wish website and recommended areas to expand content.
  • Finally, medical professionals, volunteers and families all needed to know some key messages: citizenship is not required for eligibility, families don’t have to pay anything, Make-A-Wish does not report to the government and families can self-refer.

Based on these findings, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington implemented some critical changes:

  • Hired a bilingual referral and medical outreach coordinator. Now when families call, they have someone they can speak to directly.
  • Translated brochures into Spanish and went one step further, re-positioning the messaging to address what’s most important to Spanish-speaking families.
  • Partnered with Spanish-speaking TV and radio stations for interviews, ads and news stories encouraging parents to refer, and for people to volunteer.

And the results are even more amazing:

  • Throughout 2016, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington saw a 250% increase in Spanish-speaking traffic on their website.
  • They more than doubled the number of Spanish-speaking volunteers.
  • Make-A-Wish America recognized their work in this area and awarded the Washington and Alaska chapter the Medical Outreach Innovation Award.
  • The marketing and outreach campaign won a Totem Award from the Public Relations Society of America.
  • Last fiscal year, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington received referrals for 50 Spanish-speaking families. That’s an increase of more than 65 percent from the previous year.

I had the honor to serve as a volunteer for one of these families and sharing their journey at The President’s Lunch. In November 2016, six-year-old Joshua received his wish to go to his favorite theme park after a long hospital stay for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Now, he is still battling this condition, but he is one happy kid who is thankful to have his dream come true.

Make-A-Wish Factsheet

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