A to Z - The Make-A-Wish review of 2020

2020 was certainly a year like no other! In difficult and uncertain times, it's more important than ever that we reflect on the positive things we've achieved. So, here's an A to Z review of the year, highlighting some of the ways we've worked together to grant wishes to those who need it most. 

A - Adapting

Coronavirus hit the charity hard. We had to restructure the organisation, suspend new applications for wishes for the first time in our history, and ask hundreds of children to either postpone or change their wish. On the plus side, one of those 2020-style reimagined wishes was Alfie’s wish to go on a shopping spree and he said it was better than Christmas!

Alfie with his huge haul of toys and other goodies.

Alfie showing off his haul of toys after his wish

B - Brand

Make-A-Wish UK was named the 12th most loved charity in the UK – third amongst children’s charities after BBC Children in Need and Great Ormond Street Hospital. We're so grateful to to all those who <heart> what we do!

C - Christmas campaign

Sharing George’s wish film in the run up to Christmas has left a legacy that will grant at least 24 more wishes. Thank you to all those who donated and to his mum Claire for sharing his story.

D - Disney

Disney® produced their first ever Christmas advert, supporting Make-A-Wish globally through their #FromOurFamilyToYours fundraising campaigns. They also sent Mickey Mouse soft toys to 500 children whose Disney-related wishes are waiting to let them know they're in our thoughts.

E – Emails

We sent 50 e-newsletters to our 30,469 supporters in 2020, keeping you all up to speed on our campaigns and inspiring you with stories about the amazing families we support. 

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F – Followers

We started using a new lexicon involving terms like furlough, lockdown, mute and Zoom, but we also gained followers – 8,593 new followers across our social channels in 2020 to be precise!

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G - GameStars

In February, five families and a celebrity gamer launched our new gaming fundraiser in Manchester. Live streamers CodeNamePizza and ScottishVideoGamer raised more than £7,500 for us and wish child Finley topped the Father’s Day leaderboard - raising £2,500 for Make-A-Wish!

Become a GameStar!

H - Heroes

Wish heroes like The Running Stormtrooper, Christine McLelland, Rob Ellington and John Pickup inspired us with their determination to power through the challenges they had signed up to - despite mass events like the London Marathon and RideLondon being postponed then reinvented as virtual events. So did Ryan Linley, who pulled 30-ton trucks every day in September; Alice, seven, who climbed Mount Snowdon; and Chloe, nine, who ran 1km every day for 20 days - to name but a few. Join their ranks in 2021 and be #poweredbywishes

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I – Impact interviews

We spoke to more than 60 families about their child’s wish experience. That’s more than two working weeks spent talking to families about how the wish made a difference to their wellbeing, mindset, resilience and family bonding. Thank you to everyone who has shared their story and helped us gain a better understanding of how vital it is for seriously ill children to have a wish.

J – JT

Our ambassador, John Terry did some nifty footwork to score a fabulous fundraising goal for us - raising just shy of £140,000 through his football skills challenge and online memorabilia auction. Talking of football…..

K – Kick-off

We launched a couple of new campaigns including Walk For Wishes, to encourage those on the school run to make their steps count, and StayHomeStars, to provide creative lockdown activities for families to do that were inspired by wishes.

L – Leavers

We sadly said fond farewells to 30 colleagues as the organisation was restructured because of the impact on income brought about by the pandemic.

M – Morrisons 

Morrisons supermarket, and Hendersons Group in Northern Ireland, brought hundreds of smiles to wish children’s faces by delivering goody bags to their doorsteps, ensuring that those children knew they weren’t forgotten; despite their wish being put on hold.

N – News

More than 1,800 articles about Make-A-Wish UK were featured in the press, on TV and radio stations, helping us to tell new audiences all over the country about our work. Those stories included Allan’s wish and Christopher’s wish enhancement by the fabulous team at Truckmate, which both went viral in the media and on social media back in February; meanwhile Elliot’s football mascot wish at Leeds United went virtual.

O – Online

While our real world shrank as we got used to staring at screens more often, our digital world grew as we established our Wish Family Facebook Group and began using online messaging and video calls to keep in touch with wish families and our key stakeholders.

P - Partnerships

Partners supporting us included the Kentown Wizard Foundation - which evolved to include funding for non-Disney wishes because of Covid-19; Disney, Fairy, Poundland, eBuyer, Close Brothers, Charity Car, Luna Cinema, The Original Factory Store, Peacocks, Kiddilicious, Next, Work for Good and lots more! Thank you to each organisation and every employee involved in raising funds for us as well as awareness.

Gold and silver for Proudland partnership

R – Resource Hub

This is one of several digital tools we’ve developed internally to help us to carry out our work - thanks largely to a technology grant from the National Lottery Fund.

S – STARboard

We set up our young people’s board of former wish children, who continue to meet regularly online, to share their ideas and help us become a more child-led organisation. This is the moment they interviewed our CEO:

When STARboard quizzed the CEO

A collage of the ten STARboard members set against a blue background.

Meet our STARboard members

T – Technology

We were fortunate in already having the software, culture and capacity to work remotely so we could hit the ground running when we all began working from home on March 16th 2020. We continue to carry out our work via Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Sharepoint.

U – Unicorn

Make-A-Wish is a unique place to work and when the call goes out for help finding a llama for a wish child’s party, or to brainstorm a creative way to meet a sloth, we call them unicorn moments! Our wishgranters were able to share some of these during their new weekly Instagram takeovers which helped drive engagement on our channels. (Here's where there should be an emoji!)

V – Valentine’s Ball

This was the only public fundraising event we were able to hold in 2020 and it now feels strange to look back at photos of us all sitting together at that event - not socially-distanced or wearing masks. Thanks to the committee and to all those who raised money by buying auction items or sponsoring wishes at the Ball. Huge thanks too to another committee too - for The Art of Wishes - which has adapted creatively by holding its event online and by selling two limited edition prints with proceeds coming to us:

Artists sell works for wishes

W - World Wish Day

Every year on 29th April we mark the day that the first wish in the world was granted, inspiring a global movement that brings happiness, hope and positivity to children diagnosed with a critical illness. On World Wish Day in 2020, we hosted our first ever film premiere on YouTube & Facebook, reaching an audience of thousands with a message about the children whose #WishesAreWaiting because of the coronavirus.


X – eXtra

Many of you went the extra mile for our cause including "Santa" Ryan Hadley, who raised more than £2,000 by delivering presents to children in his Welsh village, and postman Jonny Wilson from Norwich who went 12 months without having his hair cut or shaving his beard - raising £6,500 for wishes.

Read more about Jonny's challenge

Y – Young People

Our mission is to grant life-changing wishes to children and young people who have been diagnosed with a critical or life-limiting condition and, every day, we are driven by the need to support them. We have been able to continue granting some wishes, and we are hugely grateful to those young people, and their families, for being adaptable, understanding and imaginative when we’ve asked them to consider changing or postponing their wish because of current circumstances.

Z – zzzz

Most of us have had a break over Christmas, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re firmly focused on granting what wishes we can in 2021 and opening our doors to referrals once more as soon as we can.

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