StreetSmart: helping the homeless as you eat

Exhibited by
StreetSmart.
Added
June 20, 2013
Medium of Communication
Event
Target Audience
Corporates and individuals
Type of Charity
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
1998

SOFII’s view

This campaign demonstrates two of SOFII's favourite things: simplicity and innovation. The StreetSmart campaign provides a very easy way for anyone and everyone to help the homeless. By fully integrating the act of giving into the donor's established routine and by promising that every penny will go towards the cause, they make it very difficult for anyone to say no.

Summary / objectives

StreetSmart raises thousands of pounds for homeless charities throughout the UK every year during the months of November and December. The idea is simple: participating restaurants have a card on each table, or a reference on the menu, explaining that a voluntary one pound donation will be added to each table's bill at the end of the meal. StreetSmart then distributes these donations directly to reputable homeless charities throughout the UK.

Background

StreetSmart was set up in 1998 by two ethically minded Londoners, William Sieghart, founder of Forward Publishing and chairman of StreetSmart, and Mary-Lou Sturridge, former director of The Groucho Club. Throughout the run-up to Christmas, many people go out to restaurants to eat and celebrate the spirit of the holidays with friends and family. Sieghart and Sturridge wanted to harness some of that good cheer and use it to help others.

They created StreetSmart as a fundraising charity so that they could raise money and then distribute it directly to those charities, hostels and projects that have the experience and facilities to help adults and children that are homeless and living on the street. The funds raised go to charities that provide for the more immediate need of food and shelter as well as longer-term projects that concentrate on providing skills and training to help the homeless get back on their feet.

Special characteristics

StreetSmart's strength lies in its simplicity. It is an easy and innovative fundraising scheme that takes place each year during November and December. Each donation goes directly to a charity or project that helps the homeless. All of StreetSmart's operational and running costs are paid for by sponsors.

The one pound donation is entirely voluntary and can be be removed easily from the bill upon request. However, StreetSmart have noticed that customers rarely object and many are pleased that they are being given an opportunity to help the homeless over Christmas. Over the past five years, less than one per cent of customers at participating restaurants have refused to donate and many even ask to give more than a pound.

Recently, StreetSmart have made it even easier for donors to find participating restaurants by launching a new iPhone app which allows users to pinpoint StreetSmart restaurants in their area, read reviews and get directions to plan your trip.

Influence / impact

Since it began in 1998, the StreetSmart scheme has raised an impressive £4.2 million. Year on year, the organisation has grown both in terms of money raised and the number of restaurants taking part in the scheme. Over 90 homeless charities now benefit from the campaign. In November and December 2010, the campaign raised £465,000 with every penny going to help the cause.

Merits

This campaign demonstrates how a simple idea can be a very effective fundraising mechanism. By making it incredibly easy for members of the public to become donors, StreetSmart have achieved impressive growth and success.

Participating restaurants can be found all over the country.
Since StreetSmart began in 1998, it has grown both in the amount of money it raises and also in the number of restaurants that take part. Celebrity chefs such as Gordon Ramsey (pictured above) use their popularity to help encourage diners to join in the scheme.