Wishing Well Foundation, USA, Inc. was a charity founded in 1996 as a foreign corporation operating in Texas with the purpose of raising funds to facilitate wishes for children with terminal illnesses. Its last known activity was 2016, however, when it was operating, it was ranked as one of the worst nonprofits in the nation because of how it used its funds.
History of Wishing Well Foundation USA
After Lizbeth and Elwin Lebeau created the foundation in Texas, it expanded its nonprofit filings to California and Nevada, and it also began using business addresses in Louisiana. In 2008, Nevada revoked the company's Certificate of Authority but reinstated it in 2010. In 2009, Texas revoked the foundation's Certificate of Authority and there is no evidence that Texas has reinstated it.
According to its list of wishes granted, the foundation granted approximately 134 wishes and the last wish granted was in 2016 to a child in Texas who was awaiting a heart transplant. The child wished to go to a Hornets basketball game.
Wishing Well Foundation USA's last corporate filing was March 14, 2016. Despite not seeming to operate anymore, the foundation's website is still published online and appears capable of accepting donations.
How the Foundation Granted Wishes
Its standard procedure for providing wishes was as follows:
- Any child with a terminal illness from the ages of 3 up to 18 was eligible to apply for a wish.
- Only one wish per child was granted.
- The foundation received referrals from anyone, not just doctors or nurses.
- Applications for a wish were done by filling out the online form and submitting.
- A waitlist of wishes was maintained and published online.
When donors gave money, they could designate which child on the wait list they wanted to support.
Poor Ratings and Complaints
Charity watchdogs rated Wishing Well Foundation USA as one of the worst nonprofits in the nation. One report noted that the foundation only used about five percent of its proceeds to grant wishes. Charity Navigator gave Wishing Well Foundation USA a score 14.48 out of 100, which is extremely low. Donors complained of getting harassed by constant fundraising calls from the foundation's telemarketers who reportedly used high-pressure sales tactics.
Nonprofits Mistaken for Wishing Well
Besides its poor reputation as a charity, Wishing Well Foundation USA was commonly mistaken for other charities that are currently operational and have almost identical names but are not affiliated. These other charities, which are well-reputed, are still active and include the following charities.
Wishing Well Foundation, Inc
Founded by Vicki Torbush, Wishing Well Foundation, Inc. is a charity based in Naples, Florida started in 1994. Their goal is to use wish-granting dollars raised by local residents only for children in the Naples area. In addition:
- It prides itself on having continuous contact with the children it helps after their wishes are granted, which includes sending surprise cards and gifts, and inviting the children and their families to special events.
- The foundation tries to find publicity for families who need help raising funds for medical bills.
- The organization also holds fundraising events that include a fashion show, golf tournament, and sunset cruise. All contributions are tax-deductible because the foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
According to the charity's public records, Florida's Department of State has listed this charity as still active as of January 2018.
The Wishing Well Foundation (Washington)
The Wishing Well Foundation in Seattle, Washington serves the foster children of Pierce County, Washington, and uses donations and volunteers to help provide new and gently used clothing to foster children ages 0-18. Besides its website, it has a recently active Facebook page that posts frequently. The page also has a large number of extremely positive reviews and comments from users.
Donate With Caution
The story of Wishing Well Foundation USA is bittersweet: in truth, it apparently did make a real difference in the lives of the children who received their wishes. However, the charity used a very small percentage of its donations for granting wishes, and this raised serious questions about its legitimacy. Its story provides a useful lesson: always do your homework about a charity through sites such as Charity Navigator before donating.