One Percent Collective

One Percent Collective

Kind is the new cool. A small Wellington based team make it stunningly easy to give one percent of your income to some smaller, cool, Kiwi-based charities.

Pat Shepherd, founder of One Percent Collective talks about inspiring people to be generous and create positive change.
Credit: Mark Tantrum Photography
Duration: 1.51

The opening title says “Own your kind is the new cool idea”

“I feel that giving should be part of everyday life,” says Pat Shepherd. “I’ve lived a lucky life and I have that need to give back”

We see him arriving at Wellington train station, and walking up to a photo shoot on Parliament grounds. His narrative continues.

“My name is Pat Shepherd and I am the founder and Chief Doer of Things at One Percent Collective.”

“People give one percent of their wages, and we give it all to the charities they select.”

“I started out with music, photography and a street magazine, and it has grown from there. Inspired by a book that talked about an idea of the top five percent giving five percent of their wealth towards solving world poverty, my spark was six weeks volunteering on the Thai Burma border, with migrant and refugee kids.”

“Friends, family and the collective community give their ideas, their creativity, their time, and they did the design work on the brand.”

We see Pat bumping into contacts, friends and members of the community, at different places around Wellington as he heads to the shared creative office space office.

“I tried to register the brand myself, it didn’t really work so I brought in my IP lawyer friend to help.

He arrives at shared creative office space, and we see him having conversations with staff, other businesses and in arranged meetings.

“My day jumps from conversation to conversation. Around generosity of giving, giving dollars, giving time. Some people would say I’m a people collector!”

On screen we see his laptop screen, showing their website. The text reads “kind is the new cool.”

“A lot of amazing, creative people are part of the collective. They’ve got behind us with their storytelling, and their artwork to help us spread the message.”

“The Generosity Journal is really about bringing a clean, creative eye to the world of storytelling for charities. I’d often seen things looking more like annual reports than fundraising collateral.”

We see the pages of the Generosity Journal on screen, showing stories about different charities.

“Being a creative myself, I know how important it is to be acknowledged for your work. Really it is amazing charity stories coming to life, through inky goodness.”

The scene swaps to interviewing Pat. He is sitting by his laptop and holding his cat, “Crumpet’.

“I think charitable giving is just changing – the digital space has allowed a lot more opportunities and a lot of different styles of platforms to inspire giving.

The closing title says “Own your kind is the new cool idea”, and then the final screen is the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand logo.

You just see that when people approach things in that generous, human, honest way, everything thrives. We’ve built a collective of people who give 1% of their income on a regular basis, so that smaller organisations can have a lot more free time away from fundraising, and a bit more of a solid income to focus on impact and innovation.

Dream it

In 2010 Pat Shepherd took a six-week volunteering trip to Thailand to work with kids, live cheaply and refresh his life, ready for his next adventure. He ended up working for the charity Spinning Top and loved it so much, he felt inspired to start on his own charitable project here in New Zealand.

Pat tested a new, collective way to achieve ‘social good’ projects during his weeks teaching art and photography to children on the Thai-Myanmar border. With friends, he used a transparent and creative approach to think about marketing and launching art-based fundraisers, raising tens of thousands of dollars for charity in the process.

Rather than asking big-wallet philanthropists to part with five percent of their income suggested in a book he admired, Pat decided to ask ordinary people to donate one percent of their wages to charity, and to share the message of what they are doing with others.

By providing the charities with regular funding, Pat hoped it would free them to be innovative and focus their efforts on the work they were set up to do.

“The bigger vision was really that anyone – Kiwis – who can afford it, could give one percent to causes they care about, so for this we built a collective of charities.”

Pat crossing the street watching for traffic

Pat launched the One Percent Collective in 2012. Eight years later, the Collective includes over 600 people, each of whom donates one percent of their pay to charities on a regular basis. A hundred percent of the donated money reaches its target. None of it is used to pay the Collective’s overheads.

Do it

Multiplying small acts of kindness

Although Pat didn’t know any super-wealthy people, he had plenty of friends he thought might be willing to donate one percent of their income to charities.

If five percent of the wealthiest people in the world gave away five percent of their wealth to organisations solving world poverty, it would have an insane impact.

“I saw the benefits of regular giving and making it possible for charities to be able to forecast into the future, not just having one-off jumps of income. That’s the really hard part when a charity doesn’t know what their financial situation will look like in six or 12 months,” he says.

“That’s where regular giving was just that commitment to a small amount ... it’s kind of like your subscription to some good karma!”

One Percent Collective is all about inspiring people to commit to charitable giving, motivating people to act. The Collective acts as a champion for 'social generosity'. “We’re kind of what some people would call a meta-charity, like we’re not the ones actually feeding the kids, building schools, doing healthcare, on the ground doing social work. We’re inspiring generosity which is a little bit different.”

Pat chatting to a woman while walking outdoors

Pat is a networking powerhouse. He brought his network of friends into this venture – creative people, business people and people with skills in diverse areas. It’s a stunningly collaborative business model - after discussing his idea with them, he developed a plan to make joining “the giving evolution” work.

It would involve establishing a board of trustees who would follow a set of criteria. Donors could then choose their preferred charities from this selection.

“Essentially the charities must be small to medium size … we want to work with small organisations, doing awesome work that don’t have a massive team backing behind them,” Pat explains.

Everyone agreed a key task was to find an income stream to independently fund the venture, so the donations weren’t eroded by overheads.

While ensuring 100 percent of donors’ funds reach the charity they’re intended for is a noble aim, Pat estimated he’d need at least $40,000 to cover the Collective’s overheads for the first year. This would cover the costs to build the website, his part time hours “and other admin stuff”.

How to find the $40,000 was a problem a friend resolved for him.

“He said ‘What if we had 40 people giving $20 a week for a year, that gives you just over $40,000, and we’ll call them your Founding 40’.”

Forty generous people were soon signing up to help. After operating for a year or so, however, it turned out that the overheads were more like $50,000 or more a year. Pat tweaked the model and established the ‘Future 50’, this time comprised of 50 supporters, each of whom agreed to donate $20 a week on an ongoing basis.

They started with six charities which swelled to 14 as the Collective grew and more people signed up to give their one percent. Now supported by the Future 50 and corporate sponsors, all the money donated to the One Percent Collective is passed, intact, to the charities its donors nominated from the board’s approved list. With over $2 million raised by the Collective and passed on to the charities (at the time of publishing), the impact on clean coastlines, kids' development, meals to people in need – and a whole lot more, is stacking up.

Intellectual Property

One of the standout things you notice about this initiative is the positivity of the Collective’s approach and the beautiful stories, artwork and publications that they produce. A quick flick through The Generosity Journal shows images, stories and graphics created and supported by Pat’s network of friends and donors. The project is very open to collaboration. A recent edition has a cover by artist T-Wei, illustrations by Peter Campbell and photographs by Will Bailey, amongst the fabulous contributions from many other people. The contributors are clearly identified (as owners of copyright on their creative works), according to the agreement they have with Pat.

It’s good practice to make sure that assignment of copyright is done in writing. You can find out more about copyright on the IPONZ website. With copyright, the onus is on the business to keep clear records and also keep a watchful eye out for re-use of creative material.

Issues of The Generosity Journal

The Generosity Journal tells wonderful stories about the charities supported by One Percent Collective.

One of the first things Pat did when he was planning his new venture was to ask an intellectual property (IP) lawyer friend about what he needed to do to protect his charity’s name.

“I always think as a young charity that’s trying to do things differently, making sure you tick all the legal, financial and governance boxes is such a key thing, because that’s how you gain trust and legitimacy.

“It was like ‘what do we need, what are the legit steps we need to take, what is ‘trademarking’, how does it work, what should we apply to register as a trade mark, what is meant by ‘registering in industry classes and other application details’.

“It was essential to help me through those initial things.”

Pat had decisions to make – like what to brand the venture: 'One Percent Collective' sprang to mind and, without much ado, became its official name. By registering the name as a trade mark, Pat ensured that he has exclusive rights to the name in New Zealand.

It wasn’t all easy though. While actually filing an application isn’t hard, it can be a challenge to be strategic about what aspects of branding to protect. You need to think about future services you want to offer and register a trade mark to cover those as well. Pat says from his perspective that “some of the tougher stuff was not knowing what’s going to happen over the next 10 years, what activities we might get into, which needs to match the industry classes that we’re registering the trade mark in.”

Another issue involved deciding what the core features of the charity would be like, what its online features would be like, whether they’d include print media, and what Pat calls the ‘giving side’ and the ‘platform side’ would be like. He took “a bit of a stab in the dark” at making these decisions. Big strategy questions like these were also double-checked with his IP lawyer. As it turns out, from the IP perspective, websites and publications are largely about copyright, and pushing a distinctive brand that is protected as a trade mark.  

Pat feels the legal support was invaluable. “You know I can fill in some forms and hope … but, somebody who can actually just go ‘Take this, do this, this is how it works’ – it’s just a dream to have people like that."

Even though the process took time Pat would have preferred spending doing other things, he reminded himself to think ahead to the thousands of hours he was going to put into the charity, “and the importance of ticking off those legitimately legal things, so that nothing impacts you in the future. I don’t want to go to all this work and then in five years’ time find out somebody has something with a similar name and legally tells us to stop doing things.

“We’re solid with this for 10 years, so if anyone does come and try to interrupt … we’ve actually got the legal high ground."

While he was getting his IP sorted out, Pat also sought legal advice and registered the One Percent Collective as a charity in the Charities Register. This locked in the non-profit status, so that donors can receive donation tax rebates.

Own it

Adding value – storytelling and celebrating

“When we first started working, a lot of the charities didn’t tell stories of what they do,” Pat says.

With a creative background that included running a magazine, he realised the potential power of well-scripted words. Telling engaging and revealing stories would be an ideal way to connect donors, sponsors and charities – so he decided he’d take their stories to the streets and cafes, to places where his audiences look for inspiration.

“We said to our charities, ‘Hey we’ll share your stories … online, through a newsletter and social media! We create a print journal (The Generosity Journal) and we need stories’.

“We had to work with some of them to give them examples and get some volunteers to help them with photography – and we started seeing huge changes.

“They said the stories became a really important thing for them, to be able to actually learn by other people’s experiences, pass on the knowledge or experience of what they do – and now they even do their own storytelling because they realise the importance of actually getting their stories out there.”

By telling these stories, donors and potential donors can judge for themselves about whether they want to be part of the One Percent Collective.

"We don’t want to guilt people into giving – we need to provide them with awesome stories and learning about the things achieved with their support. "It’s important to thank individuals and tell them about the impact their money is having on the charity they have chosen,” says Pat. “It’s encouraging and keeps people connected with the charities and each other."

One of the ways he does this is by spending time with the all the charities in the Collective’s portfolio to find out “how the donations equate to impact.”

The results are not an exact science, but Pat thinks they’re “pretty close” to accurate.

“We’ve been putting those equations together, so we can now start to go to donors and say ‘Hey – actually you planted 657 native trees along waterways with your $1,000 to Sustainable Coastlines’.”

The Collective also hosts special events where 80 to 100 people – donors, sponsors and charities – can relax, listen to a musician and meet each other and some people from the charities they support. These help everyone in the Collective stay connected.

“We’ve tried to work at these experiences people enjoy. Obviously events are hard, they take time, they take contacts, they take money, but we’ve managed to get some of them down to a pretty fine art of not costing us much to run.

"It really is that collective feeling and actually just meeting good humans. That’s the main thing."

After these events Pat says people always come up to him saying ‘You know what – this is a room of really good people’.

"I’m like 'Yeah because they’re all supporting the community'," he says.

Pat chatting to a friend around a table

One Percent Collective is a community of terrific people, all committed to making a difference.

Capitalising on collective contributions

The last decade has seen Pat’s idea flourish.

Through a mixture of events, storytelling, social media, The Generosity Journal, word of mouth and a bit of PR, hundreds of people have found the One Percent Collective’s website and signed to give one percent of their pay to New Zealand-based charities.

"The charities can do what they need to with the money – it’s not tagged for any specific purpose," says Pat.

“We say ‘we’ve internally audited you, we trust you, you’ve applied, we love what you do, we keep in touch with you, use this money however best suits you to create impact’.

“Basically that is the best thing for them … it allows them to put it to the best use that will move them forward.”

Importantly, Pat is confident the Collective’s overheads will continue to be met. "We run a very small team with just three part-time staff and we have the support of our wonderful Future50 and corporate It’s a win-win situation that everyone’s happy with.

Everyone’s connected. They feel valued and appreciated. Donors can see where their money goes, charities can spend it where they see the greatest need and Pat’s dream has come true.

What’s more, nobody’s had to dig too deeply to be part of it – but when you put everyone’s modest donations together they add up to a lot of money the charities sector can rely on – month by month, year by year.

Pat’s modest about his success, saying others helped build the One Percent Collective’s website and organised the technology to make donating a “really easy experience, that’s just as flawless as we can make it.

“Someone can sign up, they can give, they can feel confident and happy with their giving, and they can get on with their life knowing that they’re making a difference.

“Regular giving and creating a great donor experience for people. That’s why we’ve been around since 2012 and why we’ve got people who’ve been giving since then on a regular basis.”

Pat and his pet cat looking at a laptop

Pat and Crumpet at the home office.

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