How cafés and roasters can support CafeSmart’s 2024 campaign

CafeSmart

CafeSmart’s new Campaign and Events Coordinator on her goal to smash last year’s fundraising total and how cafés across Australia can get involved.

Cafés are the beating heart of a community: where neighbours catch up in line for takeaway coffee, regulars discuss their day with baristas as they craft espresso, and friends gather on the weekend for long catch ups over brunch. This notion that coffee shops bring people together is what inspired Adam Robinson to launch CafeSmart in 2011 as a sister project to StreetSmart’s first hospitality initiative, DineSmart.

The concept is simple: over one week, café partners don yellow clothing, donate $1 for every coffee sold on the Friday, and provide a platform for people to discuss homelessness. Customers are also encouraged to leave a donation in store or online, to help top up the venue’s fundraising efforts and scale their local impact.

Now in its 14th year, CafeSmart has raised more than $2 million, which has been distributed to local community projects that fund services for people experiencing or at risk of homeless. Despite the 2023 campaign raising just shy of $150,000, CafeSmart’s new Campaign and Events Coordinator Liz Bayrak is determined to smash that amount in her first year in the role.

“Raising $147,000 was amazing. I really want to make this year’s event even bigger and brighter, on boarding more participating cafés and empowering more communities to rally behind the cause,” says Liz.

“In the past 12 months, the cost-of-living crisis has affected so many people and our community charity partners have seen huge increases in demand for their services. The more money we can raise, the more we can support these projects.”

Building on the campaign’s tried-and-tested format and previous success, Liz is excited to shake things up and introduce new components to ensure the team beat last year’s figure. One of the biggest changes for 2024 will be kicking off CafeSmart on Saturday 10 August.

“Traditionally, we’ve run the fundraising week from Monday to Sunday, but we’re mixing things up so we can launch the campaign with the help of the weekend crowds,” she says.

“We’ve listened to feedback from our café partners and we’re confident this will start the campaign with a bang. It also means we’ll be able to host some amazing launch events on the first weekend, so we’ll have some exciting things going on with our loyal  café and roaster partners.”

While CafeSmart is rooted in a serious issue, from day one the team have been keen to make the fundraising week as fun and upbeat as possible. Café and roaster partners are encouraged to wear sunshine-yellow clothes, something that Liz plans to make the most of this year.

“We’re collaborating with a few Australian artists to release a line of merchandise for the general public, which café and roaster partners can also buy (at a reduced price) and wear while fundraising,” says Liz. Venues across Australia – from Darwin to Adelaide, Hobart to Brisbane – have already signed up to take part from August 10 to 16, but there is still time for more cafés to join.

“We had 700 partner cafés last year, but we’d love to beat that for 2024. A lot of our partners have supported us for years, but we’re also getting a lot of new venues coming on board as they want to show their customers that they really care about their wider social impact,” says Liz.

CafeSmart
Image: CafeSmart

It’s not just coffee shops that support the project: roasters play a crucial role in the event, encouraging their café clients to sign up. Many also provide their café partners with complementary beans to support their fundraising efforts or fundraise through their online sales.

“We are incredibly lucky to have some amazing roasters on board every year, such as ONA, Five Senses, Locale, Veneziano, and Market Lane, which help us connect to their wholesale networks’ says Liz. ‘We’d love to encourage roasters of all sizes, across all regions, to get involved. Every café they recruit helps us make the event even more impactful.’

The CafeSmart team run an annual competition between their roaster partners to see which business can recruit the most cafés. In 2023, Single O Australia took the top spot, enlisting a whopping 89 venues.
There’s also a race to the top for café owners, who are challenged each year to raise the most money.

“Our top fundraiser last year was Yahava Kwik Koffee Bellevue in Western Australia. Across its drive-thru coffee venues, the team found creative ways to fundraise such as dressing staff up as yellow birds to raise money on foot with donations buckets,” says Liz.

This year, CafeSmart will be focusing the money raised on individuals who are sleeping rough. Its community partners across Australia have reported an increased demand for drop-in centres, food programs, and safe shelter, so donations in each area of the country will be funnelled to local projects that provide these vital services.

“We work with a huge range of charity partners which offer different types of assistance,” says Liz.

“Last year, CafeSmart grants supported organisations like Orange Sky in Darwin which provides hygiene, laundry, and social connection programs; Dismantle in Perth which offers mentorship to at-risk young people; and Youturn in Noosaville, which helps those sleeping rough stay as safe as possible with material aid and support.”

Coffee lovers are encouraged to visit the CafeSmart website before the event kicks off, where they can find an interactive map showing all the participating cafés that will be pouring coffees for the cause.

As the long-term official charity partner of MICE, CafeSmart was present throughout the three-day Expo to raise awareness and encourage cafés and roasters to support the project.

For more information on how you can get involved, visit streetsmartaustralia.org/cafesmart

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