Sometimes it's hard to get my head around the fact that Ditch the Label as it is today started with just me, a laptop and my University campus bedroom. When I first started out, I definitely was of the belief that I would have an office and people on payroll within a few months. In reality, it was a cold hard slog for a few years before funders would take us seriously. We have always been disruptive of the status quo, and it took us time to evidence that what we do to combat bullying actually works.
2015 was the start of our tipping point. The year where we started to get funders on board and since that moment, our growth has been exponential. We are now able to reach more young people in a month than we once were able to in an entire year. In 2016, we made the decision to expand our support programs and campaigns in the USA with the support of Lynx, Unilever's flagship male grooming brand.
Since launching, we have worked tirelessly to partner with key organizations, thought leaders, academics and other activists in the USA to take a bold approach against bullying. In the past year alone, I have had the privilege to represent Ditch the Label and the anti-bullying sector at the UN, in The White House and across various Governmental agencies.
One thing held us back though and that was the fact that we weren't considered to be a charity in the USA, which made it difficult to attract funding over there to enable the expansion of our work.
Applying for charitable status is typically a very long winded process and comes with a great deal of red tape. We applied for our charity status in the USA last October and since then we have been working with our lawyers (shout out to Niko!) throughout the process and last week, finally had our status granted. It came as a huge relief because the process is incredibly demanding. We had to supply a lot of evidence and came under extra scrutiny because Ditch the Label USA is associated with a foreign entity - i.e. Ditch the Label UK.
This is a huge deal for our expansion into the USA as it means that we can now start to apply for funding for USA specific interventions and campaigns.
We were all thrilled with the good news and on Friday I think it's safe to say that were all very well acquainted with pizza, prosecco and beers. Being able to celebrate with the team was such a proud moment. To be surrounded by people who have a shared vision and passion for helping others - people who are so exceptionally talented, it was just a 'oh my gosh I need to pinch myself' moment.
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