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Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana: A New Chapter to Reach More Children

We’re excited to announce that Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Make-A-Wish Montana are officially joining forces to become one chapter: Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana.

As one chapter we can expand our capabilities to reach even more children with the power of a wish! Watch the video below from Sue and Dani to learn more.


On September 30, 2020, Make-A-Wish South Dakota and Make-A-Wish Montana officially announced that we are realigning to become one chapter. We are excited for all the ways this expansion will help us serve even more wish kids and their families.


A Word From Our President & CEO

On September 1, 2020, Make-A-Wish® South Dakota and Make-A-Wish Montana officially joined forces through a process called realignment. Together, we’re moving forward as one chapter: Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana.

Thanks to all of you: our dedicated donors, volunteers and supporters, our two chapters have granted more than 2,000 life-changing wishes over the years. Together, we’ve seen how a wish can create hope, strength and transformation for a child with a critical illness.

That’s the reason we do what we do, and the reason you support us. By coming together as one chapter, we’ll expand our capabilities and become even more effective and efficient at fulfilling our vision of reaching every eligible child with the transformative power of a wish.

While this new chapter in our history will bring additional benefits and opportunities in South Dakota and Montana, there is one thing that won't change—as donors and volunteers, you will continue to have complete control over where your donation goes and the ways you stay involved.

Again, we’re so thankful for your ongoing support, and we’re very excited that together, we’ll move closer to a future in which we can grant every eligible child’s wish in South Dakota and Montana.

Sue E. SalterSue

President and CEO
Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana

P.S. We’ve included an extensive FAQ section below to provide even more details about the realignment process and the logistics of our new chapter. If you have further questions beyond what you find there, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


Realignment Purpose

Why realign?
We know that wishes can be life-changing for children and their families. That’s why our vision is to grant a wish to every eligible child. Coming together as one chapter moves us closer to our vision in South Dakota and Montana by:
  • Increasing our medical outreach capabilities
  • Expanding and enhancing our volunteer program
  • Increasing development opportunities
  • Creating administrative efficiencies
  • Increasing opportunities for specialized staff

Realignment Background

What started the conversation about realignment?
Montana was a young chapter that demonstrated great community interest and potential but struggled with low liquidity and its secondary effects. As a result, Make-A-Wish® America did not renew Montana’s provisional status since they were unable to reach benchmark criteria.

After 35 years in operation and over 1,500 wishes granted, the South Dakota chapter of Make-A-Wish® is seen nationally as a leader for granting high-quality wishes, managing funds, and engaging dedicated volunteers.

After entering into an in-depth exploratory process examining the risks and benefits of realignment, the South Dakota Chapter Board of Directors voted to join together with Montana in order to leverage South Dakota's organizational expertise and the Montana Chapter's potential to help us to reach more wish kids in both states together.

Decision Making Process

How did you research the benefits and challenges of realignment?
A realignment exploratory committee, composed of board members, staff, and a representative from the national office, examined the challenges and opportunities of merging the two chapters. This included direct input from Richard Davis, the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® America, and some of his key staff.

In addition, we consulted with other chapters that have undergone realignment and held direct conversations between key stakeholders from Montana and South Dakota.

Who made the realignment decision?
The South Dakota Chapter Board of Directors voted to realign based on the recommendation of the realignment task force, which included staff and board members from Make-A-Wish South Dakota and the national office and received input from key Montana stakeholders.

Have chapters in other states realigned in the past?
Yes. Over the years, a number of chapters across the country have realigned with the goal of better-serving wish kids and creating more efficiencies in operations. The most recent realignments were Missouri realigning with Kansas, Northeastern California and Northern Nevada realigning with Central California, Metro New York realigning with Western New York, Northern Texas realigning with Texas Plains. Other realignments include Massachusetts & Rhode Island, Pennsylvania & West Virginia and Central and Northern Florida.

Did COVID-19 play a role in the realignment decision?

No. COVID-19 was not a factor in the decision to realign.

What Realignment Means Moving Forward

Strategy, Opportunities and Challenges

What is your strategic vision for this realignment?
Within 10 years, we will be granting 200 timely, high-quality wishes annually. Our wish kids will be served by an expanded network of highly-trained volunteers and more specialized staff. Our realigned chapter will emphasize actionable data collection to increase efficiency and effectiveness, along with an increased focus on fund development.

What challenges will be involved and how do you plan to overcome them?
Montana and South Dakota cover a large geographic territory, making it a challenge to effectively broadcast our message. With that in mind, we created a plan to consistently and effectively communicate the Make-A-Wish story so we can reach more eligible children, recruit more volunteers to facilitate wish experiences, and create more short-term and long-term fund development opportunities to support wish kids.

How are you going to communicate about this realignment to the public?
We’ve created a cost-effective communications plan to share the realignment story broadly in both states using traditional and digital media.

Logistics and Finances

Who will support South Dakota and Montana during the realignment process?
Make-A-Wish America has committed to financially subsidize some of the realignment costs during the first year. In addition, the national office will provide structural and organizational support in the form of staffing assistance, expedited procedures and backend services.

What is the chapter governance going to look like?
Our model of chapter governance will not change. We will maintain a board of directors, comprised of members from South Dakota and Montana, that will be larger than our current board.

What will the new chapter name be?
Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana

Will this realignment be permanent?
This new chapter will be permanent.

Where will the new chapter office be located?
Headquarters for Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana will be in Sioux Falls, SD, with regional offices in Missoula, MT and Rapid City, SD.

Will realignment affect your staffing?
We will increase the size of our staff to meet our goal of granting wishes to every eligible child. We will continue to maintain personnel on the ground in both states.

Wish Kids and Families

How will realignment affect children that are in the process of receiving their wish?
Our increased staffing and expanded capabilities will ultimately lead to a better and more timely wish experience for more children in both states.


Do I still have the option to choose how my donation is used?
Donors and sponsors will continue to have the ability to designate funds. As a realigned chapter, we will gain organizational efficiencies, but anyone who chooses to designate donations to a specific geographic area may still do so.


How will realignment affect volunteers?
Volunteers will continue to maintain full control over when, where and how they support the mission. We believe that realignment will bring tangible benefits to our volunteer community, such as enhanced training options, more volunteer opportunities and better volunteer coverage support in certain areas.

Medical Community

How will realignment affect our medical partners and medical outreach?
Realignment will help us to increase our staffing and expand our communication and outreach to medical partners in both states.

How can I help?

You can continue supporting Make-A-Wish South Dakota & Montana by: donating, volunteering, hosting an event, referring wish kids and sharing our message.

Thank you for bringing hope to children with critical illnesses and their families!

Make-A-Wish® South Dakota & Montana
1400 West 17th Street
Sioux Falls, SD 57104
(605) 335-8000
Toll Free (800) 640-9198
Make-A-Wish® South Dakota & Montana, Black Hills Office
14 Saint Joseph St. Suite 302
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 791-4500
Toll Free (800) 640-9198
Make-A-Wish® South Dakota & Montana, Montana Regional Office
1015 Mount Ave
Suite C
Missoula, MT 59801
(406) 259-9848