The Make It Happen Foundation

Supposing you wanted to send a terminally ill child on the trip of a lifetime to meet Santa, what would you do?  If you had the spare cash, you might pay for the trip out of your own pocket, and if not, you might turn to what many Irish people are good at.  You might raise funds, but how would you go about that?

Well, you might see if you could get a company in your area to help, or you might take a sponsorship card and get your friends to help, organise bag packing in your local supermarket, organise a coffee morning, or arrange with a local pub for a quiz night.

What would you tell people?

I’m trying to send a very sick child to see Santa in Lapland.

Marvellous.  Everyone would probably throw in a fiver, even if they were stone broke, as we all are these days.  But suppose they asked you where the money was going, what would you tell them?

It’s all paying for the kid’s flights, accommodation and care.

Isn’t that right?  Unfortunately, the answer is no, if you do it as proposed by the Make It Happen Foundation.  Doing it their way, you’d have to explain to your generous supporters that most of the money will be used to send you on a holiday.  It will be spent on profits for the travel agents, profits for the tour operators, your flights and your accommodation.  Anything left over goes towards the cost of sending a child to meet Santa, after costs and overheads.

So there you are with your sponsorship card, shaking a bucket at the check-outs, and a big logo on your t-shirt.  Going on holiday to Thailand.  Please give generously.

I was baffled by this business model, so I turned for guidance to the official website and found this:

Here is how it works
You travel on one of our departures, selecting your chosen event, Walking, Running, Cycling or Golf and the money made by you travelling enables us to send one TERMINALLY ILL CHILD

On examination, however, no money is raised by any of the walking, cycling, running or golfing.  These are simply things you can do after you’ve raised the money to pay  for your holiday.

Can you see anything wrong with this plan?  I’m no genius, but I think I can come up with a better idea.

How about if you just stood at the check-out and you told people that every penny you raise will be spent  sending sick children to visit Santa?  There will be no free holiday for you, no profits for anyone, no administrative overheads and no middle-men.  Wouldn’t that be a lot better?  Of course it would, so what exactly is going on with the Make It Happen Foundation?

It’s not a charity, and yet it seeks donations.

It no longer claims to be working with any hospitals or other organisations, although it did at one time, and its site still suggests that it might be doing so.  At one time, this map referred to something it called Bernardos.  The reference was removed after inquiries by this interested observer, as were Laura Lynn House and Enable Ireland.

Wouldn’t it make a lot of sense to ask for a precise breakdown of where all this money is supposed to go, especially since the company shares personnel with a previous venture called The Children to Lapland Appeal, which promoted a similarly flawed concept and which was finally wound up last year?  I wrote about it here some time ago.

Perhaps if you live in one of the areas mentioned on the map, you might choose to contact your local hospital and try to establish what precisely its relationship is with the Make It Happen Foundation.

As the website says

You will have a wonderful time on your chosen destination knowing by joining us you will send a little one on a trip of a lifetime in their all too short lives.

Please find a place in your heart to MAKE IT HAPPEN

Surely it would make a lot more difference if you could find it in your heart not to go on holidays, but instead to hand over all the money so that several little ones could have the trip of a lifetime.

As I said, this company is not a registered charity.


By comparison, why not have a look at an established registered charity called the Make A Wish Foundation?


The following exchange is a screenshot of the Make It Happen Facebook page.

The Make It Happen Foundation’s Facebook page states that they have no connection with Children to Lapland and yet, both directors of Make It Happen are associated in some way with the now-defunct charity.

Mags Davis (46) is a former employee of United Travel, which was closely associated with the Lapland  charity.  As she says in her Linkedin profile:

I travelled extensively all over the world to contract hotels and secure rooms for future Irish clients. Countries travelled mostly to UAE (DXB and RAK)/Thailand (Pattaya) /Egypt (Luxor/Hurghada)/Japan(Tokyo)/Hong Kong/Italy/Switzerland and also Lapland (Finland) to take the terminally ill children to meet Santa in Lapland.

Jenny Russell is a former committee member of the Children to Lapland Appeal.

Con Murphy, owner of United Travel and director of the Children to Lapland Appeal now appears in many of the photos on the Make It Happen Facebook album.

Given such a close association between the two companies, why would Make It Happen deny any connection?



These are some of the holidays your fundraising will send you on.


Thailand Charity Experience — €699 per person.  Full details HERE.

Day 1  Fly to Bangkok.

Day 2 Travel to Pattaya.

Day 3 Hang around Pattaya.

Day 4 Embark on your first charity experience in the surrounding area of Pattaya.  Hang around in the afternoon.

Day 5 Embark on your second charity experience in the surrounding area of Pattaya.  Hang around in the afternoon.

Day 6 Embark on your third charity experience in the surrounding area of Pattaya, or visit the elephant village.  Hang around in the afternoon.

Day 7 Embark on your fourth charity experience in the surrounding area of Pattaya.  Hang around in the afternoon.

Day 8 Hang around Pattaya.  Have dinner.

Day 9  Go to Bangkok.  Hang around.

Day 10  Hang around Bangkok in the morning.  Go to the airport.  Go home.


Philippines Charity Experience  €899 per person.  Full details HERE.

Day 1  Fly to Manila.  During the flight, you can eat and drink.

Day 2  Go to your hotel in Manila.

Day 3 Fly to Boracay.

Day 4  Go for a walk.

Day 5 Go for another walk

Day 6 Go for another walk.  After breakfast, go on a tour or just hang around.

Day 7 Go for another walk.  Then go on a boat or else just hang around.

Day 8. Go on your last walk.  Then go shopping and go to bed.

Day 9  Fly to Manila

Day 10 See Manila.

Day 11 Go home



22 thoughts on “The Make It Happen Foundation

  1. I think it will appeal to the numpties who think it’s perfectly reasonable to help someone in need, provided that they get something out of it for themselves; a throwback to the Tiger period charity models where you get on a plane, arrive in Africa and spend a month showing Africans how to build houses for themselves and then come home and hang out in trendy bars and boast about how great you are to risk life and limb for the sake of poor Africans (not free holidays) and of course how much you own house(s) appreciated in value whilst you were away.

  2. That’s very true.
    I suppose it would’t be flashy enough in this day and age to do something unusual and maybe buy a book or a teddy or a trip to McDonalds for a sick child or their family. Are we becoming a nation of fakes?

  3. It’s like this “climb Kilimanjaro” bollox in aid of kids in Kenys (or other random country) !!! How about just sending the money to Kilimanjaro, the money that would be spent on the holiday for everyone else to go and have a fun time climbing a mountain!!! FFS!! I never donated to any of this bolloxology .

    “Make It Happen”. Reminds me of the Patrick Stewart sketch in Extras “Make It So” –

  4. Barry, unless you have actually climbed Kilimanjaro, for the sole purpose of raising money for a project you are committed to, then your ” bollox ” term has very little purpose.

    It was with money raised from this climb that some brave and giving people managed to purchase life saving equipment for children and adults in Ireland with life long conditions. Equipment which the HSE refused to give a red cent toward, wonder how much your cynicism would raise ?

  5. Can we try and stick with the issue, please. If those climbing Kilimanjaro raised money over and above the cost of their trip, that’s another matter, but this is about raising money to go on holidays.

  6. “If those climbing Kilimanjaro raised money over and above the cost of their trip, that’s another matter”
    You’ll probably hate me for derailing the topic further, but I think that your post raises an interesting point about charity in general, of which this Foundation is a really (good?bad?) example – why is it that people won’t just give money to charity for charity’s sake, why must they promise to climb mountains or run 100 KM naked backwards whilst being bittten by rabid weasels, etc, before someone will “sponsor” them….why can’t we just be asked “please give some money to help these people, you will get absolutely nothing in return and neither will I” ?
    @Derailed, I’m honestly not being cynical here, but do you know how much the trip cost (regardless of who paid for it)? And how much extra equipment that money could have bought? Would you agree that the money spent on the trip might have been better spent, in addition to any extra money raised, on the actual requirement? I totally understand that in order to raise a lot of money you have to catch people’s attention, and have great respect for those folks for putting themselves through intense labour to help others….I remember listening to a guy on the radio a few weeks back explaining how investing in advertising events had increased revenue for Breast Cancer research something like ten-fold or more in just a year, but isn’t it sad that people seem to need to get something back in return all the time?

  7. I know someone who climbed Kilimanjaro and someone who climbed Everest.

    It works like this. You’ll climb the mountain anyway, and you already have the funding to complete your plan, but since it’s such an impressive achievement, you try and use it as a lever to raise funds for your chosen charity.

    Going on a sun holiday is not an achievement, and anyway you should pay for it yourself, just like the mountaineers do.

  8. Giving money quietly and anonymously to charity isn’t very cool. (Many) people need to show off how generous and caring they are–I’d like to think it was a sign of a personality disorder, the need to be the centre of attention, to stroke the ego, look at me and how good I am. But it can’t be because it is so pervasive. I see small town glitterati organising themed fancy dress nights out “for charity” (often the usual golfing fraternity types with narcissistic and grandiose personality traits). The amount of hype, time and cost to put on these homages to their egos makes what trickles down to their nominated charity seem like small change. As you say, why not just give the money directly to charity.
    For some people giving to charity is a form of self promoting public relations exercise. Modern charities are businesses and understand this.They don’t care as long as the money comes in.
    I don’t know enough about Make it Happen, but from the look of their website I don’t think I will be sending them much this year.

  9. Good post!

    Some clarifications, if I may:

    Their front page still says “hospitals we cater for”, and the title and alt text of the images is still “hospitals associated with the MIHF”.

    They still have a listing for Enable Ireland. In an area where Enable Ireland don’t operate.

  10. People are easily hoodwinked and organised charities are very good at hoodwinkery.
    Look at GOAL as a case in point.
    Giving anything to organised charities is foolish.
    There are more than enough locals in need.

  11. @Derailed. Steve’s reply was what I was going to reply with so I won’t post twice. Climbing Kilimanjaro, going to Lapland, they are both holidays. One is an outdoor sports holiday, the other is a nice relaxing holiday to see Santa. I just don’t get why people have to say “I’ll climb a mountain if you donate to charity XYZ”, or “Come on a holiday to lapland to help a sick child enjoy a holiday in lapland”.

  12. I totally accept that ” performing ” in one way or another to raise money for Charity might not only be a drain on the actual funds but a somewhat glory driven exercise, it is though what the public have expected for a very long time.
    This process leaves the door wide open for manipulation, some partake for absolutely altruistic motives while others may have an agenda, regardless of either, its how money is raised now and thats the way it has been for well over 20 years.

    I had never heard of the ” Make it Happen Foundation ” before this post. I may be guilty of cynicism myself but this looks like a very media /pr driven exercise, one i wouldn’t have any time for.

    I tend to look at the diverted costs of any Charity, big advertising budgets, glossy brochures, pricy rentals regarding office space etc, all of that can be executed with little or no cost especially now using social media outlets etc.

    I was told reliably once that roughly 2 cent in the Euro actually reaches the target and 98 cent is diverted in costs, that is downright bad management. It can be a minefield for those dedicated to and willing to give of time and money with devotion and sincerity, its very unfortunate that those people are, in many respects just competing with big business to reach their goal.

  13. @barry – I agree with your (and Steve’s sentiments) and I pay my charitable donations by direct debit instead of donating to these sorts of things.

    However, the reason charities (or companies like the one above) do it is because they have a hard time getting people to collect money for them. The “you get a holiday out of it” is the motivation for the collectors to get out there and raise money. Yes, it would be better if people just gave their cash quietly to charity, but then, quid pro quo is human nature.

  14. Folks, I’d appreciate it greatly if you could keep your comments measured when referring to the Make It Happen people, please.

  15. I’ve tried looking at their site this morening but, strangely enough, there seems to be a bug (or is it) that automatically transfers you to PayPal after about 5 seconds looking at the site and doing nothing else. Anyone else find the same?

  16. Hi Rainman, I noticed that too. It only happens on Internet Explorer, as far as I know. The paypal page redirected to gives you the option of buying one or more tickets for their “Man Vs Dog” event, due to run last month, but cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. I don’t know if refunds were offered.

    They’ve put some details on their Facebook page:

  17. Nice update on the Facebook post.

    I’d imagine, who designed their website, are none too chuffed that the Make it Happen Foundation are saying “…we have no knowledge of plagiarism, our website was designed by a 3rd party…”. Especially as Zonua don’t offer a copy writing service.

    One could be forgiven the impression that they’re trying to pass the buck.

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