No to Funders.
In 2000 my self-control and social skills programme, Warrior Kids, featured in national media, because of this I was approached by a wealthy foundation keen to fund Warrior Kids.
At the time I was running my programme in schools and community venues. Not having premises I organised a room for the meeting.
A friend, who was a teacher, came in support. We arrived early to find that our booking had been forgotten. The room had been used for storage. It was stacked with chairs and tables. We sorted the room as best we could, setting up a space for us to sit and speak with our visitors.
Two women from the foundation turned up. They were posh, and clearly not impressed. They looked us up and down.
‘You don’t lease your own premises?’ one asked.
‘No, I put all money into running Warrior Kids,’ I said.
The money was coming from the small fee that I charged the families to attend. The families that paid that is.
I stated that any funds I received from the foundation would go directly into the running of the programme, and not into the leasing of a building. It would mean that more children would get to attend.
The women echoed the sentiment shared by other funders. ‘You are going to run your programme whether we fund you or not, so why should we fund you?’
In their report the foundation decided that Warrior Kids and I was a bad bet. That I had no stability, and that issuing any funds to me would be risky. I reminded the foundation that it was them who had approached me. I hadn’t been chasing them for money
From that point on I decided to say No to funders.
I had seen a number of programmes disappear due to their reliance on funding. I wasn’t going to let that happen to Warrior Kids. I decided to remain independent. Retain my power and autonomy.
I have been running Warrior Kids now for 27 years. It has changed the lives of thousands of children and their families, and will continue to do so.
How is that for stability?
This article was first published on Facebook and Linkedin September 1, 2021.
Copyright© Tim Tipene, 2021.