07/06/2013 - 12:04

Wishes process gains wings

07/06/2013 - 12:04

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Wishes process gains wings
TOGETHER: Gerard Menses (right) and some of his team celebrate the new partnership with the Qantas Foundation.

MAKE-A-WISH Australia has announced a new partnership with the Qantas Foundation, marking a positive turnaround in the not-for-profit group's fortunes after a tough few years.

Under the deal, Qantas will offer domestic and international flights to ill children.

Travel is the biggest cost incurred by Make-A-Wish, and the deal with Qantas will enable wishes to be granted to many more children than is currently the case, according to Make-A-Wish Australia CEO Gerard Menses.

The announcement follows recent news that the organisation's Perth branch had secured office space in Osborne Park on a pro-bono basis, courtesy of Westpac.

The Perth office had been running a lean operation since 2011, when the office space it occupied (again, pro bono) became unavailable.

Volunteers continued working, however, and while there was a two-week halt on accepting new wishes immediately after the office closure, when things settled down there was no further disruption to the process of granting wishes.

Nevertheless, Mr Menses said the new premises offered by Westpac had already made a significant impact.

"We've got a tangible presence in the business community," he said.

"We've got some paid staff now in Western Australia and those staff are working with the business community to develop sponsorship opportunities for the organisation, and they're helping to support and expand the volunteer network in WA".

Mr Menses said there was a widespread misunderstanding regarding the reasons for the office closure, which was not purely a result of financial pressure.

"At the same time the organisation was also experiencing a big spike in the demand for wishes and was facing the economic consequences of changing some fundraising strategies," Mr Menses told Business News.

Only a few months into his role at Make-A-Wish Australia, Mr Menses has already started to revise the not for profit's its business plan and build on the efforts of the organisation to strengthen its fundraising processes.

"(Make-A-Wish) was overly reliant on one particular income stream; that's never a good business principle," Mr Menses said.

Instead of relying solely on telemarketing as a source of funding, Make-A-Wish has now diversified into direct mail, face-to-face consultation, and has a team dedicated to building corporate partnerships.

One of the organisation's major aims is to collect objective data that will demonstrate the positive power of wishes and potentially form the basis for a proposal for government funding.

"We believe that (wishes) actually complement the medical process," Mr Menses said.

"It takes more than medicine to cure a child."

Mr Menses has developed a 10-year plan in which he aims for the organisation to eventually be capable of fulfilling 2000 wishes per year.

Make-A-Wish Australia grants about 350 wishes per year.

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