People’s Insights Volume 1, Issue 16: Vote.Give.Grow.

Starbucks has labelled April 2012 as ‘The Starbucks Global Month of Service’. To this end, it is investing $4 million in more than 120 US non-profit organisations to create a better community.

Money will be allocated on the basis of votes on Voting began on April 1 and will conclude at 11.59 pm PDT on April 30; results will be announced in early May.

Voters have to be from the US and must have a Starbucks card.

Users must sign in with or register a Starbucks card to choose an organisation within their community. If a user does not have a registered card, he/she can get a gift card, put $5 on it and register the card online.

The website automatically defaults to the user’s region and members can vote online each week through April so that the non-profit they support wins the maximum amount of money.

At the end of the month, the money will be distributed on the basis of votes each organisation receives. Every designated non-profit will receive at least a portion of the funding.

The top-ranked non-profit will get the largest grant, while those that follow will get proportionately smaller grants. The smallest grant per region is $5,000, while the largest is $50,000.

Starbucks empowers voters by allowing them to decide how much each organisation gets.

The Vote.Give.Grow website stated:

Each individual has the power to make a difference. Your weekly votes throughout April will determine how the Starbucks Foundation distributes $4 million to 124 local non-profit organizations. Add your vote to those cast by thousands of other individuals and help improve your community.

The money pumped in by winning organisations can help their neighbourhoods access better services across sectors like education, infrastructure, employment, pollution and unemployment.

Along with the money, the initiative provides a platform to non-profits to get noticed and spread their wings.

The initiative meets Starbucks’ objective of raising awareness by increasing non-profits’ visibility and highlighting the good work they do.

The President of Northern Initiatives, Dennis West, said:

It’s going to be great for our visibility, great to see people in the U.P. get behind us and help us be able to compete.

Six results out of 10 for a simple Google search for ‘Vote.Give.Grow’ link to the websites of non-profits requesting followers for votes. One of the participating non-profits, Access, had a message for its followers (

ACCESS is one of only 124 nonprofit across the country chosen to participate. And we have a chance of winning $35,000! But we need your help, and we need your vote. Your vote equals the financial aid that our students need towards their college degree. For every dollar invested in ACCESS, our financial aid Advisors help secure more than $60 in aid. Your vote can mean up to $2 million in aid for the next generation of college graduates

In order to bag more votes, non-profits created videos and images to send out their messages and ask their followers to vote for them, giving Starbucks more content to work with. Almost every non-profit has a video on

In fact, an increasing number of brands are turning to content from partners to create a diverse experience for users. Intel did it with its Innovators Contest. Disney World did it as well, so did Dell with Idea Storm and Vodafone with Christmas Laser Graffiti. Even rock bands like Blink 182 didn’t miss the boat with the Stolen Fan Club music video.

The movement went viral. The Starbucks brand attracts hundreds of thousands of participants in almost everything it does on social media, from a Facebook contest to a YouTube video to a tweet.

Non-profits have an extensive network themselves, which makes them influencers.

Starbucks made sure they leveraged their networks to garner more attention for their work and for Vote.Give.Grow.

Participating NGO, College Mentors, tweeted:

Help me win $35,000 for College Mentors for Kids in Starbucks’ Community Card: Vote. Give. Grow contest. Vote here

This, in turn, sparked several online conversations by supporters, giving their vote of confidence to a particular non-profit, appreciating Starbucks’ efforts and asking friends to support their favoured non-profits.

Earl Dizon showed his allegiance in the blog post ‘Vote.Give.Grow. at Starbucks’ :

DC & OFN also showed up in Portland. As much as I like DC, I chose a more local, less publicized one. I can’t wait to taste the MCCF!

Many corporate citizenship projects have a voting mechanism. These include Mahindra Rise, Intel Innovators, GE Ecoimagination, Dell Ideastorm and Starbucks’ own MyStarbucksIdea.
This gives people a sense of belonging, involvement and ownership with respect to a community.

A blogger corroborated this on his/her blog ‘Advnturespirit’ (

Love feeling like I can make a difference even if it is just by voting. You can also make a difference, it doesn’t have to be something BIG, remember sometimes it is the smallest things that bring about the biggest change. Today you can go unto the Starbucks website and vote for a non-profit in your community or you can simply do a RAOK whatever it is do something, we can all make this world a little better one raok at a time.

Such initiatives urge users to do more than just vote. Vote.Give.Grow urges voters to go to non-profits’ websites, support them, make donations, join the conversation online, etc.
Mahindra Rise, for instance, asks users to create connections with likeminded people to volunteer for projects, give and receive advice, or give donations of equipment and funds.

Starbucks wants to help communities by bringing people together, inspiring change and making a difference. Starbucks has conducted an array of programmes over the years around community revitalisation, which includes job creation, community service and youth action.

Starbucks explains its commitment to corporate citizenship:

From the neighbourhoods where our stores are located, to the ones where our coffee is grown – we are committed to helping communities thrive where we do business.
Bringing people together, inspiring change and making a difference in people’s lives – it’s all part of being a good neighbour. And it’s a commitment rooted in the belief that we can balance profitability and a social conscience.

This, in turn, fosters customer loyalty.

As mentioned on the blog ‘Creating Connections’ :

Why do I find this so compelling? Starbucks knows that promoting its commitment as corporate citizens through meaningful initiatives fosters customer loyalty. They put their values into action and make certain that every employee is engaged in bringing those values to life.

Even though Vote.Give.Grow is currently only a month-long activity, given its success, it won’t be a surprise to see Starbucks extend it.

In the ‘Learn More’ section, a visitor asked whether Starbucks will continue with the programme beyond April. The response was:

We are always looking for new ways to demonstrate our commitment to helping communities thrive. We will be evaluating the success of this program and will let our loyal customers know what is next for Starbucks and the Starbucks Foundation.

(MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.

As an example, 50+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.

As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at

Rooshabh Doshi

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