They say there are no selfless good deeds. They’re right. Giving is good – and it makes you feel good too. Steve Pilgrim feels good.

The Scouse musician, currently on the road as Paul Weller’s drummer and backing vocalist, is feeling a lot of things these days. He’s solo artist, former drummer with The Stands and sometimes Cast pigskin banger. A new dad too. He’s got a lot going on.

Like we all have. But there’s something else going on in Steve’s life that keeps him awake at night. And it’s all because of a (selfish!) good deed…

Be One Percent is the thing that keeps him awake at night (well, alongside his baby boy). It’s a network of individuals who commit to giving 1% of their income each month to help the world’s poorest people. Pilgrim is a co-founder.

“It started in 2009. I was on the road, sat in a hotel room with a bottle of One Water, and got inspired when I read that this company channel their profits into something good. I started thinking about all the services and products you could apply that to: like what if the hotel added a 1% surcharge to my bill and 100% of that 1% went to do something good…”

He was off. Like all great ideas: it’s the simplest that are often the best.

What happened next? “Back in Liverpool I got chatting with a businessman who runs a web company and started chewing it over with friends of mine… that’s when it clicked that we could all give 1% of our wages each month. This was early 2011 and between eight of us we raised £166 to support malaria treatment in Africa. That was the catalyst for where we are now.”

Through social media, word of mouth and Pilgrim‘s persistence – “I started to annoy my friends,” he laughs – Be One Percent has had a raise in profile and members. As of November last year, the campaign had nearly 60 members, raising over £1000 for that month’s cause: to help provide toilets and sufficient sanitation for an African community of around 400 people.

“We work with organisations who use money efficiently and effectively. Some you’ll know and some you won’t… but they all work in key areas of poverty alleviation. We’ve partnered with The Malaria Consortium, Passion For Souls Mission and Medicine Sans Frontiers so far.”

Look them and their charity numbers up on Google if you wish. But this is the real deal.

It’s rare to look into a musician’s eye – especially one with a CD available now – and see them get very excited about something that’s separate to their work. This is clearly a passion of Pilgrim’s and he needs to spread the word.

“Social media has played a vital role for us… but you’ll find it’s word of mouth that works best. Talking to people gets them on board. Proportional giving has been going on for a long time! Some of the guys from our trust are from a church, so they give proportionately all the time, it’s nothing new. What’s new is that it’s much easier to build a network and you don’t even need to spend money on anything tangible… like hiring a building!”

In other words: of what you give, 100% goes where you want it to. Unlike massive charities, there are no wages or marketing budgets. Everyone from Be One Percent is a volunteer.

“I realised how far we can take this when I heard that we’d help to save around 30 lives one month… that drove me on to make it work so much. I’m not qualified, I’ve never worked for a charity – but I have belief in people and a passion for people and I realised I had to channel my energy in this direction.”

In case you’re wondering, he’s not a saint. In fact, just a few nights before this conversation took place, Weller’s drummer was sneaking a couple of light ale bottles out of The Modfather’s dressing room and into my hand (it’s very easy to get us at Seven Streets interested in your story!)

The point is this: Be One Percent isn’t too good to be true. It’s a living, breathing thing that will only survive and thrive if people choose to get on board.

It’s easy to look the other way in the West. 24 hour TV and Internet news have turned the continent of Africa into a dark alley, off Concert Square: we know it’s there and what could be going on down there, but we don’t want to look into the heart of it on a Saturday night.

This is a charity that will give you a glimpse once a month and help you to do something about it. Something to help. And, yes, something to make you feel good about yourself too.

I’ll leave the outro to the drummer: “We’ve helped build wells, sponsored school feeding programmes in Malawi, helped fund the planting of 8,000 trees and given enough for measles vaccinations for 5000 children. Each month the network grows and we achieve more incredible things. And yet I know we can do so much more. Maybe giving is a selfish thing… but if we get 5000 people giving what our average, Be One Percent member gives each month, we’ll raise one million pounds in a year.”

– by Alan O’Hare


To become a 1% Member simply sign up at
and help them reach 100 Members by May.

or to make a one-off donation this month and help raise enough for 500 Malaria Nets donate at

2 Responses to “The ragged haired philanthropist: Steve Pilgrim’s ‘Be One Percent’ charity”

  1. Chris Norman

    Great article! Really good to see people promoting the good things that make us “human” especially when people are feeling the squeeze. It’s good to know even a small donation helps make a big difference to the people who really need it. Good on you Pilgrim! And nice one SevenStreets:)

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