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.
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.
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