Parting Shot: Neil Jones of Make-A-Wish

The outgoing chief executive of the charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses has seen its income triple during his tenure, and feels it is a good time to go

Neil Jones
Neil Jones

In the late 1980s I was working as a fund manager in the City and fellow commuters looked as miserable as sin. It made me re-evaluate what I wanted from my life. I decided to move into the third sector and got a job at the Charities Aid Foundation that used my investment skills. I was there for 13 years, eventually becoming director of communications.

I'd tell anyone thinking of working in this sector to go for it - there are emotional and ethical pressures, but it's wonderful to be a part of it. If you progress to running an organisation, it can be easy to get caught up in politics, but I always try to focus on the decent and honourable thing to do. Being honourable is why most of us come into the sector.

When I joined Make-A-Wish 10 years ago, there was only £10,000 in the bank and 350 children waiting for a wish. After four months I had to tell staff that they wouldn't be paid that month. The low points involve people, such as restructuring and telling colleagues they will lose their jobs; but granting wishes to children makes us all proud. I love this place, but now is a good time to leave. The charity's total income and the number of wishes granted have both tripled - this year income is expected to reach about £7.7m and 1,000 wishes - and I feel my successor can take the charity on to greater things.

We deal with such a serious subject, so it's important not to take life too seriously. There hasn't been a day in my career when I haven't laughed or grinned broadly with colleagues.

Make-A-Wish grants wishes to children and young people who are fighting life-threatening conditions

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in

Latest Jobs

RSS Feed

Third Sector Insight

Sponsored webcasts, surveys and expert reports from Third Sector partners


Expert hub

Insurance advice from Markel

How bad can cyber crime really get: cyber fraud #1

Promotion from Markel

In the first of a series, we investigate the risks to charities from having flawed cyber security - and why we need to up our game...

Third Sector Logo

Get our bulletins. Read more articles. Join a growing community of Third Sector professionals

Register now