Online community driving offline change – Starbucks

A lot of companies are talking about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and throwing their support behind it. There have been a few questions raised about the real reasons behind this support: is it just to drive sales or is it because the company is actually interested in it.

When I worked on the Westpac account, I realised that they had been committed to the environment for years before it was the done thing. In the late 80s/early 90s they were focused on it. They actually believed in making a difference to the community and encouraged all of their staff to get behind it – whether it was by volunteering for a day a year to a charity of choice or working within their CSR team.

Something I came across a couple of weeks ago was Starbucks starting to put their hand up in the CSR arena. Starbucks have been trialling a lot of things online and I’m not sure if this is another trial or something they are going to be committed to for years.

Starbucks are trying to get people to donate 1million hours of time towards community service. They want everyone to donate 5hrs of time to a community service in their local area. In return for this, the pledger can go into Starbucks let the barister know that ‘I’m in’ and you will receive a free cup of coffee (see screens below). I took this screen grabs a couple of weeks ago and now the hours is well over a million and continuing to grow.

Starbucks i'm in - home page

Starbucks Pledge 5 'I'm in' - Home page

Starbucks i'm in - Subscribe thank you

Starbucks Pledge 5 'I'm in' - Subscribe thank you

One of the best things about the site is that you can have a look at the community services that needs help in your area. Unfortunately, this is only relevant in the US but it is such a great tool. I would love to volunteer, but just don’t know how to. This is one way that removes the barriers and encourages people to help each other.

Starbucks I'm In - Beverly Hills volunteering options

Starbucks Pledge 5 'I'm In' - Beverly Hills volunteering options

Starbucks have extended Pledge 5 to a Facebook page and an application that you can remind yourself of the 5hrs of community service that you have pledged.

Starbucks I'm In - Facebook application

Starbucks Pledge 5 'I'm In' - Facebook application

In addition to Pledge 5, Starbucks have two other CSR projects: Starbucks Shared Planet and Starbucks V2V.

Starbucks Community Involvement

Starbucks Community Involvement

Starbucks V2V is a volunteer to volunteer service (see below for screens). It launched in April 2008 and uses the V2V platform which is a global volunteer exchange. It is focused on helping achieve the million hours of volunteering.

Starbucks V2V - home page

Starbucks V2V - home page

Starbucks V2V - Log in

Starbucks V2V - Log in

Starbucks Shared Planet is a site that talks about all of Starbucks CSR initatives to help the environment and the community. It’s a great site that makes you feel good.

Starbucks Shared Planet - Home page

Starbucks Shared Planet - Home page

Starbucks Shared Planet - Details page

Starbucks Shared Planet - Details page


  • Get involved – particularly in these current times, it is important to get involved. I’m not a coffee drinker and didn’t have a connection to Starbucks, but now this has changed my perception about Starbucks. If I’m looking for a cup of herbal tea while I’m out, I’ll now consider going to Starbucks to support their commitment to CSR. I wouldn’t have done this before because I didn’t understand their values.
  • Consistency – make sure that you are consistent. Companies must continue their involvement and commitment unless they want to experience consumer negativity. If Starbucks stopped their Pledge 5 now, I would be extremely disappointed. I’ve already changed my perception about the brand and am happy to go to the store, if they were to stop now, I don’t think I would go there. I feel so positive about them now, but that can change very quickly.
  • Nuture – CSR is not a set and forget campaign, it must be nutured and their must be a focus on making sure it works. There must be continued attention and updates to the consumer so they feel part of the progress. It is a big committment, but one that is worth it.
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9 Responses to Online community driving offline change – Starbucks

  1. Elena Acin says:

    Hi Dominique, great to read you. I am Elena Acin, working in V2V project. V2V was created in Brazil, 4 years ago by a non-profit (Comunitas). One year ago, we partnered with Starbucks to make it a global. The experience has been great, specially to confirm how conscious they are about their social responsibilities.

  2. dominiquehind says:

    Thanks for your comment Elena. Would be interested to know how you found out about the post? Obviously a Google Alert.

    Is there anything else that you can tell us about the success of V2V? I’m really interested in the concept and think it’s a great platform for other companies to get involved. Look forward to hearing from you.


  3. thisamthispm says:

    Hi Dominique,

    I think you hit the nail on the head with your 3 “Learnings”. At a time when stories of corporate irresponsibility is common, it’s great that some corporations are playing their part.


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  5. Peter says:

    Awesome list! Going to link it up on twitter! thetwittersecret

  6. Peter says:

    Awesome list! Going to link it up on thetwittersecret.

  7. Etta says:

    Everyone loves it when folks get together and share ideas.
    Great blog, keep it up!

  8. Amelia says:

    Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful.
    Many thanks for sharing!

  9. whoah this weblog is excellent i really like reading your
    articles. Keep up the great work! You recognize, lots of individuals are hunting round for
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