Starbucks Almost Gets It Right: Creating Jobs for America


There is nothing wrong with supporting charitable organizations that are focused on getting people back to work.

Heck. Yeah. More of that, please!

This is why I sorta like how Starbucks is supporting Opportunity Finance Network through its Create Jobs for USA Program.

Opportunity Finance Network® (OFN) is the national network of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) — private financial institutions that are 100% dedicated to delivering responsible, affordable lending to help low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people and communities join the economic mainstream. Learn more about us.

That’s an awesome organization and a great cause. Count me in.

Except I hate the idea of Starbucks selling me a bracelet to get people back to work. Yuck. I’m not a fan of pinkwashing or livestronging  for charitable endeavors and the indivisible bracelet reeks of 2005-2007 Lance Armstrong.

(That’s the Sheryl Crow phase.)

I do love when companies demonstrate corporate responsibility. To be fair, Starbucks has some of this right. They are trying to find an entity — outside the federal government — that can help people get back to work. Again, I love it. And Starbucks has a captive audience that can be mobilized for good. That is cool. I just think that the point in which my barista asks me to purchase a bracelet is the wrong call to action.

Hear me out. Consumerism is part of the reason why Americans are out of work. Our credit limits are gone. We can’t spend any more money. If I give you $5 to create a job, I’m $5 poorer. I have to work X minutes longer and harder to recoup that $5. I already pay taxes, donate to my local mission, and donate to other charitable endeavors. How does that math work out for me?

You say that the people who buy a cup of coffee at Starbucks have plenty of money to donate. Maybe. That’s not necessarily true, though. Plenty of coffee is financed through shady Capital One credit cards. And really, my bigger point is this: there is a real opportunity to demonstrate corporate leadership by crafting a more thoughtful and compelling ‘call to action’ than a point-of-sale-impulse-purchase at Starbucks cash register.

That’s all.

I hate how the internet makes everyone a faux marketing genius… but the bracelet isn’t a fabulous idea… and I am not sure it aids in recognition, recall, and awareness of Opportunity Finance Network. I’m lukewarm on the whole campaign. It doesn’t hurt anyone and it’s nice… but it feels like a squandered opportunity.

What do you think? Did you buy a bracelet? Do you love the campaign? Am I wrong?

And one more thing: I want to know more about the bracelets because I want to support and invest in a business whose owner  is dedicated to helping low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged people join the workforce. That’s a company and a group of workers who deserve more support — and more opportunities to work — than my $5 donation at the coffee counter can possibly provide.

Is that the kind of company that made these bracelets? I wanna know more!

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