Make-A-Wish: Commitment to Having a Bigger Impact

How Make-A-Wish National Board of Directors instigated a process to build a robust plan with clear board reporting that commits to changing the lives of children around the world.


“We need to have a bigger impact because we have kids waiting on their wish.”

– Make-A-Wish CSO

The Challenge:

The number of wish requests had grown beyond what Make-A-Wish could deliver.

This global non-profit needed a strategy to accelerate growth and focus their efforts to meet their growing pipeline of wishes.

The Outcome:

A robust plan, unified commitment, and streamlined reporting to deliver results across a large, dispersed enterprise comprised of leaders, chapters, board members, volunteers, and donors.

The Vision:

Granting wishes to every eligible child.

The Approach:

In the face of growing need, achieving Make-A-Wish’s true North star—granting the wish of every eligible child—can’t be achieved by just having a strategic plan.

Achieving their true North star requires a deep commitment to the rigors of delivering results from top-to-bottom. Every board member, chapter, volunteer, and donor needed to understand how they contribute to the achievement of their vision and committing to achieving growth. Because it’s not just quarterly earnings or growth numbers at stake, it’s about providing life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.

Looking down the barrel of a growing wish pipeline, Make-A-Wish realized they simply didn’t have the resources to grant the wishes of every eligible child.

Determined to shift this reality, Make-A-Wish partnered with OnStrategy to develop and implement a focused nationwide strategic plan with defined accountability and performance measures to accelerate growth and focus their efforts. Here’s our approach and methodology for this work:

  • Executive Interviews: OnStrategy conducted one-on-one interviews with the Make-A-Wish Strategic Planning Committee to obtain a comprehensive perspective of the organization’s current state.
  • Chapter Insight Survey: Based on our learnings from the executive interviews, OnStrategy developed and implemented a quantitative strategy survey to collect input from the Chapter CEOs; this captured the key considerations that needed to be taken into account during the planning process.
  • Onsite Strategic Planning Facilitation: Our team designed and led a 2-day, all-in planning session with over 100 Chapter CEOs and Make-A-Wish leadership to co-create their strategic plan.
  • Chapter Planning & Coaching: OnStrategy collaborated with the MAW team to develop a planning approach for crafting the Department Operational Plans to align with the organization’s strategic direction and budgeting process.

The Deliverables

After the completion of our onsite planning session, we built Make-A-Wish’s strategic plan and created plan rollout materials pivotal to the success of organization-wide adoption and implementation of the plan. These deliverables included:

  • 3-Year Plan Roadmap: We established a clear 3-year planning roadmap with short- and mid-term milestones to measure performance reflecting their targeted growth trajectory.
  • Annual Corporate Plan with Measures & Performance Targets: OnStrategy established an annual corporate plan with metrics, performance targets and key performance indicators that would provide a confirmation that their execution efforts were delivering the needed results.
  • Corporate Scorecard with KPIs: We worked with the Make-A-Wish executive team to develop a custom board report to automate the reporting of the organization’s Key Performance Indicators in a high-design, easily-shared format.
  • Two-Page Public Communication Document: We helped develop a two-page, public-facing communication document that highlights Make-A-Wish’s Mission, Vision and Key Priorities for the next three years.

The Results

Plain and simple, Make-A-Wish is dedicated to granting the wishes of every eligible child. A strategic roadmap paired with aligned organization—from leadership to individual chapters –has empowered this organization to grow their wish count around the globe.

  • Growth: Make-A-Wish increased its capacity and ability to grant more wishes during the first year of plan implementation.
  • Alignment: A co-created strategic plan allowed everyone from top-to-bottom understand how they contribute to the growth and success of Make-A-Wish.
  • Organization-Wide Commitment: Everyone’s fully committed to growing the organization to achieve the true North star: granting wishes to every eligible child.
  • Clear Reporting: Structured, standardized reporting allows everyone to know what metrics they own and what they’re responsible for achieving.

Convinced? Let’s build something together.


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