How Reach for a Dream is making children’s dreams come true

Children holding gift boxes from Reach for a Dream

The Reach for a Dream Foundation is a South African non-profit organisation which over the last three decades has brought hope and happiness to tens of thousands of children fighting life-threatening illnesses. Modelled after the American Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Reach for a Dream Foundation was founded in 1988 by Owen Parnell with the mission of fulfilling the dreams of children of any race, colour and creed between the ages of 3 and 18 faced with a life-threatening illness. 

“Reach for a Dream brings hope to children with life-threatening illnesses through dream fulfilment and various support projects, including boy and girl based activities, camps, outings and in hospital care. We support the dreamers and their families as well as the community at large,” said the Reach for a Dream Foundation’s Head of Business Development, Natalie Lazaris. 

In 1988 the Foundation started with only dream fulfilment. Since then they have introduced camps and other activities that support the dreamer and assist in not just being a once off moment with the dreamer, but an extended support structure for at least 12 months of the child’s medical journey. 

“We continue growing our offerings to the children, as we have just launched another offering called dream rooms, which are hospital spaces which we revamp and make more child friendly,” said Natalie.  

Making dreams come true requires support and innovation

As an NPO, the Reach For A Dream Foundation is entirely reliant on donor funding and public support. Fortunately, the Foundation receives ongoing support from various companies, corporates and funding events. This combination of assistance has enabled the Foundation to meet their R25 million target annually, which goes towards running offices across the country and, on average, helping 40,000 children per year. 

However, the uncertain economic climate has brought on a few challenges. “With the funders having to cut budgets, it often cuts the funding that we receive as a Foundation. We are therefore always scouting for new business and more support. We work a lot with different fundraising campaigns and new ideas to ensure that we make our annual target. As a Foundation, we are constantly staying innovative and creative to ensure that we can continue the work that we do,” said Natalie.

One of these innovative decisions was to integrate PayFast into their website to accept online donations. “The PayFast online payment solution is easy to use and gives donors the ability to choose which payment method they want to use, and even the option for them to make recurring, scheduled payments. We find that the easier it is to make a donation, the more willing people are to do it,” said Natalie. 

Online donations are safe and easy

Of the R25 million that the Foundation raises per year, R12 million of this is from events and fundraisers such as slipper day, golf days and gala dinners etc. The remaining R13 million is from individual, corporate and businesses, of which online donations makes up about 1% of this sum. However, Natalie pointed out, they are trying to promote online donations more so that they can grow its popularity.    

“As more time passes, the more people seem to become comfortable with donating online. We’ve definitely seen the growth of online donations annually. We are also trying to push people to pay online – because the process makes it easier for us as well. Once people donate online and realise it’s safe and easy, the more likely they are to do it again, which promotes continuous support,” concluded Natalie. 

We are dedicated to helping PayFast registered causes and charities succeed in their fundraising efforts. When the Reach for a Dream Foundation registered for a free PayFast Cause account they were given a reduced rate for every successful online donation they receive, as well as a dedicated page on the PayFast Cause Index. Through this free web page, they are able to promote what they do, link to their website and social media pages and even accept online donations through a Pay Now button

The Reach for a Dream Foundation is just one of 1,000s of charities and causes that have registered for a free PayFast Cause account, and as a result are benefiting from online donations. If you run a registered NPO, sign up for a free account at www.payfast.co.za

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