Image for An Open Letter to Shane Warne

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*Pic: Belinda Kitto and Timothy Gould 

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Belinda Kitton and Matthew Bowen

Dear Warnie,

I represent a bunch of your biggest fans, so this isn’t a smack down. I promise.

Ok; so it’s true that recent revelations about your Warne Foundation financials make for awkward reading.

It is however, your foundation. It’s your call who you employ to run it, what you pay them, and who you rent your premises from. After the first 4 cents in the dollar (hard to believe, but that’s the law around foundations…) it’s also your call on how much you donate. And you do have a Board in place; it’s not like you’re flying solo.

So rather than bringing on outrage, this week’s exposé regarding The Warne Foundation’s struggles actually had me slowly breathing out. Sighing in relief, if you may, with this confirmation that fundraising is hard. SO hard.  Even for the most connected man in Australia it seems.

Let me tell you a little about us, Warnie.

I work for a regional organisation in Launceston, Tasmania called the New Horizons Club. We provide sport and recreational programs (including cricket) to over 300 local people of all ages with disability. I think my job is the best in the world. Every single day I am touched by the challenges and joys our members and their families experience through inclusion in everyday activities.

We receive Government funding for one full-time employee (me) and one part-time administrator, but all other functions are covered by volunteers and every single dollar allowing the club to operate must be raised by us.

Warnie, we look with admiration and I admit, a touch of envy at what organizations like yours have at your disposal. Big names and powerful connections mean corporate cheques handed over without cajoling, seriously amazing celebrity fundraising events with those eye-watering auction prizes, purchased without a blink. Huge amounts of cash apparently come rolling in, with no need to bag and sell manure, sizzle sausages and flog raffle tickets at the mall. Ah, you make it look so easy.

But the real numbers tell a different story. That even amongst the rich and famous, money must be spent to be made. And in this case, very big money that doesn’t necessarily guarantee a return on investment. That’s a revelation to me.

Maybe we all underestimate just how powerful a small, passionate organisation can be. Our recent Gala Night, held at a hall decorated entirely by a team of volunteers, with auction items and prizes donated from generous local small businesses, raised nearly $25,000 clear.  We were overwhelmed; even more so now, after realising that this would be a significant net result for you guys too.

It’s tough, but here’s hoping for all the people who need a little extra help, the Warne Foundations, the New Horizons Club and all the other thousands of organisations in Australia can keep cracking on.

Continue raising funds with the help of the generous; the wealthy and the pensioner who gladly passes on a gold coin. And then here’s to holding on to as many cents in each generously bestowed dollar as we can, to spend on only the right things. That is our responsibility.

And Warnie, if you’re ever available to pop down to Tassie, we’d be super happy to have you. The wheels are - quite literally - falling off our bus. The window frames are rusting. The seats are breaking. It’s time to start fundraising again, and we know you can raise a crowd and a few dollars too.

Yours Faithfully, 

Belinda Kitto.

General Manager of New Horizons Club Inc.