Spark's charitable arm, the Spark Foundation has sold its Givealittle crowdfunding site to Perpetual Guardian - founded and owned by four-day-week champion Andrew Barnes.

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There will be a transition to the new ownership over the next few months, Spark Foundation lead Kate Thomas said.

Perpetual will take full control of Givealittle. The price has not been disclosed, but Thomas indicates it was a modest amount, telling the Herald "it was in line with it being a non-profit."


Barnes told the Herald he would take on Givealittle's 12 staff.

So will they get a four-day workweek?

"Absolutely," Barnes said.

However, there's a caveat. Like all employees in the business man's empire, "They will start on five days then identify productivity gains that will allow them to then move to a compressed week," Barnes said.

"The way we're giving in New Zealand has been changing and I've been a fan of Givealittle," Barnes said.

Last year, the site raised $10m in the wake of the Christchurch attacks through multiple campaigns for victims' families.

It's also famous for crowdfunding drives like the successful $2.2 million effort to keep a pristine Abel Tasman beach in public hands.

"I'm very excited about building on what they've done so far," Barnes said.


But as successful as Givelittle has been, most of its campaigns have been one-offs, organised by individuals, he said.

Barnes wants to get more charities and philanthropic organisations plugged in, and to assess ongoing donations to a cause through mechanisms like payroll-giving or making a donation when you purchase a product.

Beyond the Givealittle deal, Spark Foundation and Perpetual also plan to partner on a number of other initiatives, Thomas says.

These will include projects to promote digital skills and better access to technology (building on the Foundation's existing programmes such as the Electric Garden, Code Club and Like a Boss), plus "digital well-being" - or addressing the impact of things like online porn, gaming and social media on NZ society, and especially those aged eight to 18.

A refresh of Spark Foundation's "Jump" initiative, which has offered $10-a-month broadband to 5000 children in 1900 underprivileged families, is scheduled for March.

Givealittle by the numbers

Givealittle began life as a commercial venture in 2010, backed in part by venture capital outfit Movac. It was a destination where startups could crowdfund money for a bright idea in the manner of Kickstarter or PledgeMe.

Under Spark ownership, annual donations have swelled from $650,000 to $18.5m in 2018.

Some $33m was donated in the year to June 30, 2019, buoyed by more than $10m for Christchurch attack-related campaigns - taking the site's all-time donation total to $123m.

Costs to run Givealittle were $1.39m in Spark's 2019 financial year, partially offset by a 5 per cent service fee that raised $952,000. Spark covered the $439,000 shortfall.

The telco has invested around $8m in the site overall, Thomas said.

Spark wanted to generate cash from its sale, but that had not been the only criteria. The Foundation also assessed potential buyers on their social enterprise principles.

Conscious capitalist

Perpetual Guardian is the country's largest and premier provider of the full suite of estate planning services, and the Givealittle platform will be a welcome addition to the group's family of entities which are focussed on creating better outcomes for Kiwis and making estate planning and philanthropy services more accessible, Barnes said.

The Rich Lister has positioned himself as a "conscious capitalism" advocate over the past couple of years, introducing a four-day week at Perpetual (and meeting with the UK Labour Party to discuss the policy); campaigning for the rights of 'gig' workers such as Uber drivers; and joining a Sir John Kirwan programme that addresses mental health issues in the workplace.

"It is great to see technology making a bigger impact on giving. The methodology behind how we give has been changing as the 21st century progresses, and we are happy to be furthering our innovative and comprehensive digital services alongside our traditional offering," Barnes said.

"The BBC reported recently that charity apps may be making us more generous, and the Charities Aid Foundation Charity Landscape 2019 report states that 87 per cent of charity chief executives now see investing in technology as a key priority.

"Givealittle is an established platform and strong Kiwi brand which provides a channel for giving that is treasured by New Zealanders, and we will continue to invest in it and look forward to integrating it into our business."