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Case study. A parent and child, both giggling, outdoors, with two colorful shrubs behind them.

Make-A-Wish: Bringing hope to critically ill kids and their families

Make-A-Wish partnered with Highland to map the experiences of wish kids and their families. Then, they invited us to create a mobile app experience to help facilitate wish journeys that build resilience and agency in wish kids. Finally, they asked us to create a digital strategy help all 64 chapters use better digital tools to bring their mission to life.

  1. Ear icon Research
  2. Eye icon Design
Make a wish blue and yellow background with stars. Make a Wish App mobile views, with two calendar notifications


Make-A-Wish wanted to create a bigger impact for wish kids, but the 35-year-old organization felt stuck. In order to grant more life-changing wishes for critically ill children and their families, they knew something needed to change. They wanted to deliver more impactful wishes than ever before, and knew they need to deeply engage Make-A-Wish staff in order to do it.


We worked with our local Make-A-Wish chapter to map the wish family experience. In just six weeks, we led chapter staff through a series of interactive in-person workshops, stakeholder interviews, and a group mapping exercise.

“The customer journey mapping process gave us ability to visually see the work that we do and to validate the things that we know, believe, or assume to be true. The ability to take a step back and look at where we do well and where we have room for improvement was invaluable and re-energizing.”
Dina Thatchet
Referral Outreach Manager, Make-A-Wish Illinois
Three people standing at a white board covered with stickies, a Highland 'H' made of brackets and two dots connected with a line overlaid on the image

Make-A-Wish Illinois staff members review journey insights on sticky notes

Design & Prototyping

Through our journey mapping work, we discovered that wish families often had many points of contact with the volunteers and staff who were working on their wish, this included emails, phone calls, texts, and Facebook messages. We created a speculative design for a Make-A-Wish application that would streamline communication for wish families, giving them one less thing to worry about.

Digital Strategy

Using our wish kid journey as a starting place, we created a digital strategy for the entire Make-A-Wish organization. We interviewed staff across the country to better understand the challenges and limitations of their current digital infrastructure. We mapped how each tool played a part in delivering an impactful wish experiences, and shared recommendations for improvements.

Make a Wish yellow rectangle with floating stars framing the background. A Make a Wish Journey Map with the quote: Empower me to play a role in helping wish families regain hope, joy, and a sense of familyhood.
“They’re genuine. I’ve worked with many IT consultants where that isn’t the case. They’re experts in their field, and the entire team is professional.”
Bipin Jayaraj
CIO, Make-A-Wish Foundation of America


A lasting partnership

Make-A-Wish plans to continue working with Highland to build on our digital strategy recommendations. We're excited to help them continue to further their mission of transforming lives one wish at a time.

40+ hours of interviews conducted

3 years working together

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Want to learn more?

For over 20 years, our team of designers, developers, and strategists have helped organizations turn their biggest uncertainties into opportunities for growth. Ready to get started?

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