Be One Percent members donate 1% of their income every month to projects tackling poverty and inequality. In July, they raised an incredible £7,539 to provide education scholarships for a TRAID project improving the lives of young women formerly working in exploitative conditions in spinning mills in India. Helen Sharpe from Be One Percent tells us more.

TRAID: What is Be One Percent and what was the inspiration for setting it up?

Helen Sharpe: Be One Percent enables people to donate to a range of charities every year, confident that their money is going to help people in the world’s poorest communities.

We started in 2011 in Liverpool when musician Steve Pilgrim and business consultant Matt Johnson convinced a group of friends to start giving 1% of their income every month to hand-picked projects which were working to end poverty across the world. They found businesses who were able to cover our meagre running costs, meaning 100% of individual’s donations could go to the people who needed it. Each month donors get an email saying exactly how much was raised and where that money is going.

We are still relatively small in number, but in the past 9 years our little group of like-minded people have had a life-changing effect on the lives of 100,000’s people.

TRAID: How many members do you have and how much have you raised so far?

HS: We currently have 226 members and have raised over half a million pounds which has funded 113 projects

TRAID: How do you choose the charities and projects you support?

HS: Be One Percent’s board of trustees are responsible for searching for the most efficient and effective organisations working in poverty alleviation and putting together a diverse calendar of projects every year. Our pillars are water and sanitation, food security, health, micro-finance and education.

TRAID: Why did you approach TRAID?

HS: TRAID have a brilliant reputation for the innovative ways they work within the fashion and textile industry to protect workers and the environment. We asked for two proposals for 2020 and could easily have picked either of them. They were unique in their approach, proven to be efficient in terms of the number of people who would benefit compared to the amount of our members money we would be investing, and they left a lasting legacy in the communities they were working in. All criteria we look for when picking our monthly projects.

TRAID: What types of knowledge and awareness amongst your members was there of the socio-environmental problems of the fashion industry? Do you think people have enough awareness of the impacts of their clothes?

HS: By nature our members tend to be a socially aware and compassionate group of people, but work could be done everywhere to educate consumers on the impact of their choices.

TRAID: There is a long tradition of giving away a portion of wealth earned to those in need such as the Islamic practice of Zakat. How do you think that more people could be convinced to give away some of their income to charity?

HS: We rarely lose a member. Once people are on-board they are convinced. For most people, 1% leaving your account every month goes largely unnoticed, but that donation can be genuinely life-changing for people living in poverty and we make sure our members know exactly where their investment is going and how many people will benefit directly from their collective giving. They are our best spokespeople and the small growth we have celebrated over the years comes from them.

TRAID: What types of change and progress has beonepercent funding
helped to bring about?

HS: Every month we invest in a different project so the change and progress we have been able to bring about is always diverse and exciting. So far this year alone we have:

  • Planted 11,000 trees
  • Fed 464 school children a meal every working day
  • Reached 4,800 people with mobile medical care
  • Improved hand washing facilities and sanitation for 110,000 people in response to the pandemic
  • Supplied malaria nets to 10,600 people
  • Helped 20,000 people access clean water

And now, funded scholarships for 77 former exploited textile workers which will benefit themselves and their families!

TRAID: What are the three things you would say to persuade someone considering joining an organisation like beonepercent?

HS: One of the elements of Be One Percent that we are most proud of is that by giving 1% of your income we are all giving proportionately and together. Your 1%, no matter how much you earn, will have a huge impact. We work with the most efficient and effective charity partners out there and we’re tough on them to make sure the money we give them goes to the people who will benefit most. So by donating through Be One Percent you can be sure your 1% won’t be spent on expensive marketing campaigns.

If you’re still not convinced, check out our impact page which shows all the projects we’ve funded to date. You’ll be amazed at how far your donation could go.

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