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

The Sarah Lilli Fund helps children of all ages

Here are some of their stories

A fishing trip for Kamil

Kamil is 13, and the eldest of six children who recently came to live in New Zealand. The family speak very little English and Kamil’s parents are struggling financially to support their children to engage in extracurricular activities.

A grant of $150 will allow Kamil attend his school’s mid-year fishing trip. Kamil will be able do something he enjoys as well as have some time away from his five siblings who take up a lot of his parents’ time.

Isla and Miles go to Karate classes together

Isla was sexually abused by a close family friend who is now in prison. Mum decided to move Isla and her older brother Miles away from their hometown to protect them. They now have no contact with the rest of the family. Mum is a single mother with limited financial resources, especially after having to resign her job as they wanted her to work late nights and there was no one home to look after the children.

Miles and is very protective of his mother and sister and he has taken on a very adult role within the home. The children would like to do an activity together, and they have picked Karate. This will also help them meet new people in their area, whilst gaining some self-defense techniques.

School Holiday Programme for 9-year old Joseph

Joseph’s dad has PSTD and his mother has mental health needs. Joseph has been diagnosed with ADHD and his medications have contributed to a lack of appetite and self-harm behaviours. At school, he has isolated himself from his peers and is unable to maintain friendships.

A grant of $220 for a school holiday programme will support Joseph in building connections with his peers and encourage positive interactions with adults.

Fun at School Camp for Logan and Mia

Logan and Mia’s mum has recently been in rehab and the children stayed with their Nana during this time. Mum’s ex-partner was abusive, and the children witnessed this from time to time.

Mum is now back home and doing well but understands the children have been through a lot and she would like them to have some fun to look forward to.

Both children would love to attend their school camp and the Sarah Lilli grant of $280 will make them very happy. They will be able to make new friends, be around good role models and learn new skills.


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.