Make-A-Wish Foundation Makes the World a Worse Place
Posted by Michael Dickens on October 10, 2010
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is an organization that grants wishes to critically ill children. These wishes are often heartwarming and even entertaining. And that’s a problem.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is one of the more glorified charities. Children are granted extravagant wishes in order to make them happy. And yes, these wishes do make the children happy. But for how long? A kid gets a gift and becomes very happy, but will soon become bored with it. A kid gets an experience, which he will hold in his memory, but that first burst of happiness will never be reclaimed and the memory will slowly fade. What the Make-A-Wish Foundation is really doing is providing short-term pleasure.
But this short-term pleasure for the child often also means a big publicity stunt for the Foundation. It’s quite an entertaining charity, really. But the problem is, the purpose of a charity isn’t to be entertaining. It’s to help people.
Does the Make-A-Wish Foundation help people? Well, strictly speaking, yes. But they’re doing a pretty bad job of it. They claim that they “grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.” How about you enrich the human experience with medical research, or by helping to treat children who have preventable diseases? It seems to me that that would be far better than what the Foundation is currently doing.
By campaigning for their own cause, MAW draws funding away from causes that do much more good for the world. In this sense, it makes the world worse in a very concrete way. Donors have a limited amount of money that they are willing to give to charity, and by giving it to MAW, they fail to give it to another, more beneficial cause.
According to their website, they spend on average $7362 per wish. In 2009, they spent $135 million on granting wishes. While these wishes did provide temporary happiness for suffering children, that’s just about all they did. They didn’t solve any real problems or alleviate any long-term suffering. 
What could have been done with that money? The money spent on one wish could pay for the educations of dozens of children in India. It could provide mosquito nets for 1400 people and prevent approximately seven deaths. That means with their annual budget, the Foundation could save the lives of over 100,000 children who endure just as much suffering as—if not more than—the kids who get wishes from MAW. But all that is thrown away, because the people at Make-A-Wish Foundation decided that granting fleeting wishes to a few select children is worth more than all that.
 A number of commenters have corrected me on this statement. While I may have underestimated the amount of good that MAW does, it is inconceivable that they do anywhere close to as much good as an organization such as the Against Malaria Foundation (linked in the previous paragraph); and MAW directs funds away from other charities that do a great deal more good.
 Many commenters have expressed that the children who work with MAW experience a great deal of joy. I understand this. It somewhat saddens me when they fail to see that an organization such as the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF) produces comparable or greater effects many times over, and they willingly give preference to the option that leaves so much unnecessary suffering in the world. For every one American child with leukemia AMF fails to serve, MAW misses thousands of children who are likely to die from malaria.