Providing opportunities

There are over 250,000 children in New Zealand living below the poverty line, whose families struggle to provide day-to-day necessities, let alone any extras.

The Sarah Lilli Fund has helped 2,000 children in need to enjoy music, dancing, swimming, soccer and other sports, or to go to school camp with their friends — opportunities that would not have been possible for them otherwise.


How the Sarah Lilli Fund started

The Fund was set up by the Payne family in 2006 in memory of their daughter. Sarah Lilli died shortly after her 10th birthday of a rare brain disorder. The Paynes wanted to give other children the kind of opportunities that she had during her life and have worked with Barnardos to make this happen.


How it helps

The Sarah Lilli Fund helps disadvantaged children to

  • pursue a creative, sporting or social opportunity that is their chosen interest and will benefit their wellbeing — through grants for lessons, sporting equipment or musical instruments
  • enjoy a special celebration, experience or holiday — including grants for holiday programmes or camp fees
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Our “Behind the Scenes at Wellington on a Plate” fundraiser in October was a great success, raising an amazing $11,707 from ticket sales, donations and the auction. Around 100 attendees enjoyed talks from WOAP’s Festival Director Sarah Meikle and WellingtonNZ CEO John Allen, as well as a display of chocolate bonbon making by Sébastien Lambert from Le Cordon Bleu New Zealand. There was music from NZSO’s Donald Armstrong playing with young performers from Arohanui Strings and later with Sasha Gunchenko on double bass. You can click here to watch the video. Flamboyant auctioneer David Parmenter ran another exciting auction for holiday accommodation, restaurant and entertainment experiences. Many thanks to all the performers, presenters, donors of the auction items and to Intergen for hosting the event.

The Sarah Lilli Fund helps children of all ages

Here are some of their stories

Amy finds happiness as she swims

Amyhas a diagnosed attachment disorder resulting in limited interaction with her Mum and violent and inappropriate behaviour at. school.  She desperately wants to belong somewhere but is seeking attention and affection in socially unacceptable ways. 

Amy's happiness comes from her love of water and swimming, and a Sarah Lilli grant has paid for a wetsuit so she can continue to participate in activities at the local surf lifesaving club. She will benefit from this high energy activity which reinforces helping others.

Joe finds confidence on the soccer field

Joe is an 11-year-old living with his mother and three siblings. Jo has experienced anxiety and low self-esteem since the death of his father three years ago. The family have financial difficulties resulting from the separation of Joe’s mother from his stepfather, and also recently experienced harm from him.

Sarah Lilli funding has paid for soccer fees for Joe for the winter term. He has a passion for sports and soccer will give him an opportunity to interact with peers and build confidence in a safe, structured environment.

Remy grows at local Spy Camp

Remy is living with his Nana due to his Dad being on home-detention and his Mum being supported in rehabilitation services. Remy has very little opportunity to engage in out of school activities as his Nana has to manage without any financial support from his parents.

A Sarah Lilli grant paid for Remy to attend Spy Camp again, and he is very excited to be going. His self-confidence, resilience and overall wellbeing benefited enormously from the previous holiday programme and this will be another boost for him

Out of home activities for Mia

Mia is a one-year-old whose Mum suffers from severe post­natal depression and trauma through several miscarriages prior to Mia. She struggles to take Mia out of the home for activities - which means Mia is missing out on developmental opportunities.

A Sarah Lilli grant will give Mia 30 sessions at Kindy Gym, with her Mum. 

After attending one class Mum feels comfortable enough to go on her own with Mia, which is a great step forward as she usually finds group settings overwhelming. Being able to get out of the home will help Mum’s mental health as well as Mia’s development.

You can help

The Sarah Lilli Fund relies on donations, and a little gift goes a long way. For the children helped it’s the chance to enjoy an interest they’re passionate about or join in with their friends at school camp or on a holiday programme. For their parents, often a solo mum, it can mean connection to other families and relief from some financial and emotional pressures.

You can make a one-off donation or join our sponsorship scheme. We also run fundraising events, including concerts, auctions and movie nights. All the money you donate goes to the children, as Barnardos supports the administration of the Fund within its wider operations.

Read our latest newsletter to find out what’s been happening (.DOC, 136KB)


Making an application to the Sarah Lilli Fund

Social workers from Barnardos or other agencies make the grant applications on behalf of the children and families they are working with. They know there are real needs and no alternative sources of help.

Applications are reviewed by a Barnardos senior manager, and grants are made in a few days or even hours in some cases.


Donating to the Sarah Lilli Fund 

You can sponsor a Sarah Lilli Sports, Creative or Holiday Grant via regular automatic payments.

Grant sponsorships are

  • $10 per month or $120 per year for a Sarah Lilli Sports or Creative Grant
  • $20 per month or $240 per year for a Sarah Lilli Holiday Grant.


Regular giving

You can set up regular payments via internet banking. Payments can be made to Barnardos NZ, account 06 0501 0509606 02. Please put ‘Sarah Lilli sponsor’ in the payee identification field.

If you'd like a tax receipt at the end of the financial year, email with

  • your full name and address
  • the start date, value and frequency of your payments.

We also accept automatic payments by debit or credit card. Contact us if you'd like to set one up.


One-off donations

We appreciate donations of any value. If you'd like to sponsor a grant in full, it's $120 for a Sarah Lilli Sports or Creative Grant or $240 for a Sarah Lilli Holiday Grant.

Credit card donations can be made securely online through our donation portal. Once completed please forward the confirmation email to with the subject line: Sarah Lilli.

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Who to contact

For more information on donating to the Sarah Lilli Fund, email or call 0800 005 437.