was a super decision because the leaders have taken Make-A-Wish Foundation to one of the top children’s charities in the world. Ballou: You may say you were a dictator. I would say you were committed to the vision and the principles behind that, and you were not yielding on those principles. That is a strong leadership position, to be grounded in principles that are so important. Because you did that, that vision is still in place today. That is astounding. Were there times along the way when you wanted to give up? Shankwitz: Yes, of course. I can’t tell you how many times. I was working full-time as a police officer, and because of the money we needed initially - fortunately police officers can get a lot of off-duty work in security and as bodyguards - I took all of the jobs
that I could, to put my personal money into the foundation. I was working 70-80 hours a week, and I would say, “I can’t do this anymore.” One of our board members would say, “Frank, we have just identified another child. We need to give this wish to them.” That would give me the energy to keep it going. Ballou: You payed attention. You demon- strated that you were alert. You surrounded yourself with competent people, maybe even people who are better than you, so this thing went where you wanted it to go. Shankwitz: Definitely. We hired the experts, people who knew the nonprofit industry, people who had the training and the background, and they also had multiple contacts. That is something we look for
Do you have a parting thought for people who have an idea, who have downloaded a vision from somewhere, who have been given a calling to do something? Is there a tip or a challenge or an ending wish that you would give these people who have an idea? Shankwitz: Never give up on it. Stick with what you want. Keep researching. Don’t give up. I don’t know how many people have a dream, but just don’t follow through. Follow through takes time.There is no such thing as failure. There are 1.2 million nonprofits in the United States, and I encourage anybody who wants to get involved in a nonprofit to research www.charitynavigator.org/.They are the watchdog for all nonprofits.They will tell you where the money is actually going, to the mission or some CEO’s pocket. Anybody can be a hero. Being a hero means you can somehow give back to the community. It doesn’t have to be in dollars. It can be in time or any kind of donations or just in support. Everyone can be a hero. Frank Shankwitz was a co-founder of the Make-A- Wish Foundation in 1980. A wish is now being granted somewhere in the world on average every 38 minutes. Frank continues to work with Make-A-Wish as a Wish Ambassador and keynote speaker at fundraising events for chapters throughout the United States. Frank is the recipient of multiple awards, has been featured in many publications, and is the co-author of two books. wish.org
in establishing not only our following presidents and CEOs, but also our board members: that Rolodex they could contact. Ballou: That is a key point: surround yourself with competent people who have the contacts. Be very clear on what your ask is. You have generated the profit for this nonprofit, the profit that runs this motorcycle which is the engine that provides for these children.This has been a very inspiring story.
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