The Art of Giving a %

The Art of Giving a %

Guest post by Pat Shepherd, One Percent Collective - December 19, 2016

I’ve led a pretty lucky life – growing up in a loving family, choosing my education, traveling and ultimately leading the direction my life takes. We all know that billions aren’t so lucky and for me I saw this first hand when I started volunteering on the Thai/Burma border, supporting children from Burma through a Wellington based charity called SpinningTop.

This was my first dive into the generosity sector and was an experience that would shape the next six years of my life. Like many people who volunteer, I didn’t plan this career move, you simply see a need and as a human, you have to act to help those who aren’t so lucky in life. Before my time volunteering I had been photographing New Zealand’s music and art scene, front row at gigs, I’d be bouncing around to the beat while trying to capture the ultimate moment and keep things in focus. It was the generosity of musicians that truly helped move me to use my photography and storytelling skills to inspire people to join a generosity movement. This movement took shape through a charity I launched in 2012 called One Percent Collective.

Images by Pat Shepherd

Through my volunteering and time at SpinningTop, it was the musicians and creatives who supported us with their time and talent without having to think twice. What if I could harness their time and talent to help inspire thousands of people to give 1% of their income to causes they care about on a regular basis? 

I’d never set up my own business let alone my own charity, however I had a wonderful crew of talented volunteers who were willing to help us bring people together through the power of music, art and storytelling. In Nov 2012 we launched on the same weekend as Inspiring Stories’ Festival For The Future and we packed out a venue with 400 people coming together through music, with all profits supporting our partner charities. Since 2012 music has continued to be such a powerful way for us to bring the Collective together, we’ve asked musicians and charities to share their stories on why they do what they do and have seen so many people inspired by these events and experiences.

The most powerful thing musicians have taught us, is based around our three values: Be Open. Be Human. Be Real. The stories they share through music aren’t marketing spiel, they are their thoughts and feelings on the world around them and these powerful words and stories stick with us. Inspired by the humanity musicians show, we really love to make sure the real human stories are told by our partner charities, whether it’s Regina on her journey through homelessness to Suzie on the challenges of depression or self harm. 

Each of these stories we share are a chance for our donors to feel connected to the wonderful causes they support and they are also a chance for those sharing the story to use what can often be a traumatic experience in their lives and turn it into a learning and growing experience for them and for all who read it. In Regina’s story, she shared with us many things that even her family and workmates did not know, for her it was a chance to share and open up a part of her story that she had been wanting to share for years.

Cover artwork by Sean Duffell and Natasha Vermeulen

In a very noisy digital world, we also wanted to make sure the inspiring stories we share will reach more people, so over the past few years we’ve published a free print publication called The Generosity Journal. Each issue reaches around 12,000 people and has been designed in a high quality style, so it’s often kept as a coffee table style magazine for years. This is our way of reaching new audiences, those who won’t stumble across our website, but might happily pick up a stunning free publication when they are at the dentist, bar, shops and all those places where our generous ‘future Collective donors’ are just waiting to be inspired by the power of positive stories.

The regular storytelling and events to connect our Collective have been key to us raising well over a quarter-of-a-million dollars for the small charity partners of One Percent Collective. Rather than doing one-off fundraising events, we instead choose to focus on regular giving, creating a positive giving experience for all the Collective supporters who donate 1% of their income. 

Garden to Table image by Pat Shepherd. The Neonatal Trust image by Sara McIntyre.

Inspired by our friends at Watsi and charity: water, we also operate a 100% model, with our running costs kindly being covered by a group we call the Future 50, plus corporate support from Trade Me and The Original Cocoa Traders. In 2016 the amazing support we received from Namaste Foundation allowed us to tweak our model; bringing on new partner charities, improving our UX of the whole system and allowing us to design a beautiful storytelling structure that will kick in from January 2017.

While I sit here writing this piece with Bob Marley blasting in my headphones, my workmate Reuben is busy shaping up an interview with Auckland based poet Tourettes on his time mentoring youth through partner charity Nga Rangatahi Toa. Our images of Kaibosh’s recent earthquake damaged building are helping Kaibosh in their campaign to find a new home. The planning for our next few months of storytelling are well underway.

It was music, art and photography that ultimately led me into the generosity sector and I am very excited that we get to continue to push our 1% generosity movement through these incredible mediums. Everyday more and more people are inspired to give a % about this world, a world that we are all ultimately responsible for!

P.s. We are one of the first non-profits using Stripe in New Zealand, this means no matter where you live in the world, you can join the Collective and support our charities at

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