CafeSmart 2024 hopes to reach more people in need than ever


Coffee roasters and cafes are brewing up a new edition of CafeSmart and hoping to reach more people in need than ever before.

The coffee industry can be as competitive as any, but when it comes to responding to homelessness in Australia, all differences are left aside.

Last year, 717 cafés and 44 roasters joined forces to support people doing it tough via not-for-profit organisation StreetSmart’s CafeSmart event, raising $147,585 for local grassroots charities and community partners.

This year, for the 14th event, the organisation is hoping to reach even more people, says CafeSmart Head of Partnerships and Fundraising Cynthia Mac Caddon.

“Last year was a massive success, but in 2024, we’re hoping to produce a bigger and bolder event,” she says.

“We have already received lots of expressions of interest from brands, coffee roasters and cafés that want to get involved.

“CafeSmart serves as a strong testament to how the Australian coffee industry unites to make a significant difference in the lives of those in need. Participants can expect a fun event that will bring the entire country together in a yellow hue, showcasing the transformative power of a cup of coffee.”

This year CafeSmart will run in August around Australian Homelessness Week, and will unite hundreds of roasters, green bean suppliers, cafés, and consumers around the country.

“Roasters help us connect to their networks – they help to inspire cafés to get on board and in many cases, they help their cafés by giving them free beans. They fundraise through their own retail shops if they have them, or if not, then through bean sales online,” says Cynthia.

“Each café that’s involved is the one activating the event at their venue – so when cafés sign up, we see them become enthusiastic champions of their local community in need, raising awareness among their customers, and raising funds.”

Cafés donate $1 per coffee sold on one day during Homelessness Week, and also encourage their customers to get involved via in-store collection boxes, QR codes on stickers, or posters on-site.

“It really is the Australian coffee industry bringing the event to life,” Cynthia says.

She adds the fundraising efforts over the years have showcased the generosity of the Australian coffee industry.

“For us, it feels like the industry came together as a family. There was real generosity from all the roasters and cafés that wanted to collaborate and participate,” she says. “I think everyone loves coming together ‘to do good’ – there’s no ego or competition.

“These roasters and cafés are really champions of [the event]. They want to know who their local charities will be and how they can contribute more, and they all do it in different ways.

“For example, there’s a café in Brisbane which always has a fundraising goal. They talk to their customers about matching any donations dollar-for-dollar and try to reach a $5000 fundraising goal. For them, it’s a great opportunity to connect further with their customers, asking: ‘We’re giving back to our local community – will you help us’?”

Cynthia says making connections and getting businesses to know more about their local charities is so valuable.

“We have seen so many relationships grow over the years – sometimes it results in someone at the café volunteering [at a local charity or service], or maybe the café commits to doing more fundraising at a different time of the year,” she says.

The money raised is used by CafeSmart to support grassroots charities and community partners. In 2023, donations were dispersed to 133 frontline organisations, with 5500 people given access to food relief, safe housing, crisis accommodation, emergency aid, medical support, training and employment opportunities, and wellbeing support.

Cynthia says the organisation has a key focus on keeping things local, with CafeSmart researching the needs of each area that is involved, then liaising with community groups and services to work out how to best contribute to the local population.

“What that means is, for example, when a café joins [the campaign] in Ballarat, then more funds are raised for community services in the Ballarat area,” Cynthia says.

“The same goes for any parts of Australia where participating cafés are located. [In 2023], we had an amazing café partner in Geraldton, Piper Lane Cafe — who were the only participant in their area — and thanks to them we managed to provide funding support to homelessness services in Geraldton.

“We really love the fact that participation has come from all around Australia, and as more cafés join the campaign, the more we can support services in those areas.”

CafeSmart even makes sure any online contributions reach the local area of the person donating money.

“For any online donations, there’s a step where the donor nominates their local café, or simply enters their postcode, so our team knows where the funds should be allocated,” Cynthia says.

Cynthia adds last year’s fundraising effort came during a period when services have been inundated with a spike in requests for assistance from people experiencing homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, and struggling to meet the escalating expenses of daily life.

The Hobart Women’s Shelter, which received a grant from CafeSmart, says the contribution is a welcome relief for those needing support during difficult times.

“Meeting the increasing demand of our clients who are escaping domestic violence is such a challenge, so these CafeSmart grant vouchers will make such a difference. Providing individuals and families with vouchers to basic material aid [such as] groceries, fuel, and transport gives people the dignity of choice in meeting their own unique needs,” the shelter says.

Similarly, the Hut Community Centre in Adelaide says cost-of-living struggles have affected many within the local area.

“The increase in the cost of living is having a significant effect on all our communities. Housing instability, increased cost of rent and unavailability of rentals is causing stress amongst many of our clients,” the centre says.

“We are extremely grateful to StreetSmart as a recipient of this Community Grant, as we intend to use it to purchase fuel and supermarket vouchers which will give us the ability to assist people who are in crisis.”

Cynthia says she hopes even more businesses will support future campaigns.

“We want to continue to increase the number of participating venues in order to be able to extend our support to more charities and areas across the country,” she says.

“We also want to focus on encouraging coffee lovers to match their local CafeSmart café donation, which is the easiest way to double the impact.

“Our team will work on updating our donation platform for quick and smooth online transactions, strong marketing promotion, and we will also make sure our printed collateral are eco-friendly and compostable, which we know is something all our coffee partners really care about.

“A café may never know how many coffees they are going to sell on one day, but you know that at the end of the campaign, it’s going to make such a massive difference.”

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This article appears in the February 2024 edition of BeanScene. Subscribe HERE.

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