Innovation That Matters

Community-directed giving at New England coffee chain

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Regular Springwise readers may recall our story back in 2008 about British grocer Waitrose’s community-directed giving program. Whole Foods has long done something similar, as we noted back then, but recently we were pleased to come across a like-minded effort at a smaller chain. Blue State Coffee operates five shops in Providence, R.I., New Haven, Conn., and — most recently — Boston. With ethical sourcing practices and a focus on sustainability, the company is nothing if not in good company in those respects. What sets it apart from other coffee shops, however, is the same thing it has in common with Waitrose: a community-directed giving program. For every order purchased at Blue State, the buyer receives a token at the register that can be dropped into one of various bins representing several local causes. At the end of the quarter, Blue State donates 5 percent of its sales to those local causes in the proportions dictated by customers’ tokens. Online sales, meanwhile, automatically support the Environmental Defense Fund. Since Blue State’s first store opened in July 2007, it has donated over USD 175,000 to more than 50 nonprofit organizations. An example to follow for retailers large and small around the globe! (Related: ‘Buy one, donate one’ effort lets kids direct the givingMore consumer-directed community givingPepsi asks crowds which community projects to fund.) Spotted by Jessica Cole



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