The Covid-19 pandemic has been hard on both the economy and peoples’ emotional health. Oft-forgotten, however, are the nonprofit organizations that rely on donations to continue operating even in tough times. In honor of World Wish Day on April 29, the anniversary of the wish that inspired the founding of the Make-A-Wish organization, Richard K. Davis, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish America, shares how his nonprofit navigated the pandemic and hopes to get back to helping people at full capacity soon.

Davis explains how travelers, especially, can help with their miles and points. Despite positive signs like the world’s first fully vaccinated airline flight and a rebound in vacation travel, many may choose to donate their stash of miles and points instead.

Make-A-Wish America grants wishes to children with critical illnesses. Over the past year, the organization doubled down on its efforts to connect with donors so that it could continue to share the impact a life-changing wish can have on a child and their family.

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Many people may not realize that some nonprofits accept more than monetary donations; this includes frequent flier miles and hotel loyalty points. For those without upcoming travel plans, donating miles and points to a nonprofit organization can yield far more value in the greater good it can do for others.

How did the pandemic affect wish granting?

We’ve had to “reimagine” certain types of wishes to protect the families we serve, who are some of the most vulnerable among us. We found new and creative ways to grant wishes safely because we understand the timing of a child’s wish is as essential as the wish itself.

Despite temporarily postponing wish experiences involving airline travel and large gatherings, we are proud to have been able to grant more than 8,800 wishes for children with critical illnesses last year.  

These include shopping sprees, room re-decorations, outdoor playhouses, wishes for new pets and virtual celebrity meetings. Most recently, we granted a staycation wish for Jacob, a 7-year-old boy from Detroit with a congenital heart disease. His wish was to spend time building sandcastles at a beach house in Northern Michigan. 

How are families responding to these changes?

The global pandemic created a very challenging year for granting wishes for children with critical illnesses.

While terms like “isolation” and “social-distance” can be especially damaging to a Make-A-Wish family looking for hope, countless medical professionals believe we are part of the solution because the hope that comes with a wish is more important now than ever. 

Our wish families have told us that these life-changing wishes have filled their homes with heartfelt memories and healing in a year full of hardship. Wishes continue to have the power to help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy and anxiety with hope. It reassures us that we don’t need to wait for hope – we can create it.

How can people help in these challenging times?

This past year, we’ve all experienced fear and uncertainty – something that children with critical illnesses are experiencing even more intensely. The wish journey gives children with critical illnesses a piece of their childhood back, and every child deserves a childhood.

People can make a difference in the life of a wish kid in your community by donating at wish.org. The organization also accepts donations from stock, retirement, estate and donor-advised funds at plannedgiving.wish.org.

While there is still a great need for support to grant the wishes that are waiting, we are encouraged by the continued generous donations of individuals and corporate sponsors.  

How can frequent travelers help?

Travelers can support Make-A-Wish and enter a drawing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Banff and the Canadian Rockies through Omaze. This online platform gives everyone the chance to win incredible experiences and prizes to support nonprofits worldwide.

Although wishes that involve air travel are temporarily on hold, frequent travelers can also donate points and unused miles through Wish.org/airline-miles to help offset travel costs when those wishes resume.