The Pure Collective: Democratising Philanthropy in the Heart of Sydney and Beyond
Imagine a world where every individual can have a direct impact on the issues that are important to them. A world where every time they spend money, they’re casting a vote for the kind of world they want. The Sydney-based Pure Collective is facilitating exactly that — working to engage every customer/consumer with the causes and charities they care about through everyday purchases.
The Collective is building an innovative and sustainable ecosystem comprising social businesses, a philanthropic foundation, a family of staff, supporters, investors, advisers, partners and volunteers. It all began with a financial services business called Pure Advice; a boutique wealth management firm, which converted to a social business (or 100 percent “profit for purpose” business) model back in 2007. This small practice began to donate 100 percent of profits to a range of charities and then formally established its own foundation (The Pure Foundation) in 2013, with the intent of bringing together its networks of diverse families and contacts to build a more self-sustaining, agile, scalable and resilient community impact model. The goal was to grow impact and to allow for seed investments from the Foundation’s corpus into other social businesses.
By building profit-for-purpose businesses from the ground up, the Pure Collective could ensure their value alignment but also evolve new investment concepts directly. The businesses range across three verticals — hospitality, technology and finance. They span from a coffee company, Pure Coffee Project, to an innovative technology company called Folo. There are also a number of restaurants and cafés, including Folonomo (For Love Not Money) in the trendy Surry Hills neighbourhood and Symbol café in the busy North Sydney area. The last addition to the hospitality family is Portal, a stunningly modern café in the heart of the Sydney central business district in Martin Place.
What distinguishes the Pure Collective is that each one of their businesses operates on a ‘profit for purpose’ model by which they donate their profits to charity. As it continues to build out its network and infrastructure, the Collective wants to go one step further: it wants to democratise philanthropy and make it possible for people everywhere to directly influence the outcomes created by the profits that they help generate. Essentially, in the ecosystem that is the Pure Collective, consumers have the choice of which cause and charity their purchases will support:
We imagine a world where every member of the community can have a more direct and engaged interaction (big or small) with the issues that are important to them
It does so by allowing customers to choose in real time. At the restaurant venues for example, once a customer pays the bill, the customer can opt which charity to support by placing a bouncy ball in one of a number of jars, each representing a charity or cause, from providing hungry school kids a meal to supporting drought stricken farmers, to keeping a child safe from human trafficking.
But it doesn’t stop here, the Collective is also spearheading an innovative technology company, Folo, an online shopping platform, where the majority of the commission provided by retailers is returned to customers to donate to charities of their choice. Online retail is becoming increasingly competitive. The discount model erodes brand value, and for retailers looking to improve customer alignment, Folo provides a compelling value proposition to attract and retain a loyal customer base. The project is currently being piloted in Australia but the ambition is to take it global by 2020.
What’s more, the Pure Collective hospitality businesses double up as a training ground for people with “double negative” status – who have arrived in Australia legally as refugees, but find themselves without any government support and without work rights. The Collective uses some of the profit it generates to provide them with a scholarship to support their cost of living, while they are trained in hospitality to prepare them to be job ready for when, and hopefully, their papers are granted. The training helps participants integrate into Sydney life and creates a support network for them.
The philosophy of the Pure Collective is that despite our differences as individuals, the value we create together is much greater than in isolation. Imagine a world where a globally minded family of people and organisations enable meaningful connections, conversations for change and an opportunity to make a daily impact. Imagine no more – that world is emerging with the Pure Collective.