How did baby goats get involved with the oldest wish granting organization in Washington State? Dan Curley, Executive Director of the Wishing Star Foundation, tells the story of how baby goats raised almost $40,000 for the foundation with the help of 110 volunteers. His advice to nonprofits: bring in the community as much as humanly possible.
The Wishing Star Foundation grants wishes for children with life threatening illnesses through the help of volunteers, donors, businesses, and the joyfully given support of the local community. Curley explains how inviting the public in as participants of your work, with real investment in your mission, leads you to exponentially increase the power behind you mission.
The Send a Friend a Goat events invited donors to give $50 or $10/month to send a live baby goat to an unsuspecting friend in the greater Spokane or Tri-Cities area on a day of their choice. Then the recipient must donate any amount in order for volunteers to take the goat away. Some even continue the goat merriment by donating $50 and sending the goat to another unsuspecting recipient. Groups of trained volunteers—“goating teams”—deliver the baby goats and local businesses sponsored the event.
By connecting with community members—volunteers, sponsors, goat recipients—in such a unique and memorable way, Wishing Star nurtures individuals’ investment in their mission. This relationship continues through social media and their newsletter, and by utilizing their networks to find people who can help grant a wish through in-kind donations like airline miles or a vacation rental. After connecting with the receiving family, those individual donors are more likely to become long-term as volunteers and consistent participants in fundraisers.
Chases’s Wishing Star story serves as a great example of how having a strong network of supporters can result in an unexpected windfall. After battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia for three years, Chase wished for tuition assistance so he could attend the University of Idaho. His story was shared hundreds of times on Facebook. Eventually the University heard about his request and decided to grant him full tuition for four years. As the Executive Director of a nonprofit, Curley adds, he tries to get out into the community and volunteer himself whenever he can, establishing a relationship of generosity with the community. He attributes much of their success to their emphasis on the local community, celebrating what is local and creating natural connections to the cause.
Founded in 1983 by a teacher and mother who had a student with terminal brain cancer, the Wishing Star Foundation grants wishes to children ages 3 – 21 in Spokane, the Tri-Cities, and the outlying areas. You can find out more on their website about referring a child or the various ways to get involved. The Wishing Star Foundation has been a Washington Nonprofits member since 2013.