Sarah is a staff writer for Justmeans on Corporate Social Responsibility. She currently runs the CSR programme at her company, Munro & Forster Communications (M&F), as well as leading their environmental consultancy work. M&F is based in London and specialises in health, wellbeing and public and voluntary sector communications activity, including communications strategies, PR, media ...
Tis the season for CSR
Innovative charity campaign StreetSmart is a dream for CSR managers in large corporates. It promotes indulgence at Christmas for a good cause.
Launched in 1998, StreetSmart partners with exclusive restaurants across the UK to add an optional £1 to customers' bills. The money is then given to homeless charities.
Since launch, StreetSmart has raised an astonishing £4.2 million, with £455,000 raised last Christmas. It operates only in the run up to the festive season - November and December.
The charity's biggest corporate supporter is global investment bank Deutsche Bank. As part of its CSR offer, the bank pays all of StreetSmart's administrative costs so all money raised goes directly to homeless charities.
Perhaps it is because it is such a simple concept that diners, chefs and celebrities have endorsed StreetSmart so wholeheartedly. £1 is a very small price to pay on what is likely to be a hefty bill and diners, filled with warm feelings, wine and good food are unlikely to say no.
The chefs have recognised that a campaign of this nature is not only a CSR initiative for them, but a way of cementing a partnership with their customers.
Celebrity chef Marcus Wareing said: "I am delighted to support StreetSmart, a fabulous charity that remembers the homeless in our city at a time of year when we should be thinking about others. More importantly our guests agree."
Part of StreetSmart's success is its 'feelgood factor'. Homelessness is not a subject which ordinarily sits well with this idea. However, by inspiring diners, and giving them the opportunity to do the right thing, in company with their friends, it makes the choice simple. The campaign is not pulling a guilt trip on anyone, and yet the unspoken reality must surely be enough for most diners to cough up the cash.
Gordon Ramsay said of the campaign: "It's everyone's chance to to do the right thing at the right time with only the gentlest nudge."
Given that the campaign is now 12 years old, I wonder whether, in future years, the charity might consider giving diners the option of giving more. It is a tricky call to make. Would giving options of £1, £2 or even more result in more money or engender feelings of resentment among the diners? StreetSmart says that diners often give more than £1, unprompted, but would giving them options increase or decrease donations? It is an interesting psychological judgement call.
In any case, from a CSR perspective, StreetSmart is perfectly positioned. Even more large corporates would benefit from involvement. Companies could arrange their Christmas parties at StreetSmart restaurants, for example, and suggest to each staff member that they donate £1 to the charity(providing they're getting their dinner on the company that is!) It's the perfect festive CSR opportunity.
Photo credit: StreetSmart