My dear friend, gadfly extraordinaire Steve Dew, posted the following status update on Facebook just now:
These “pay it forward” stories get my goat as much as they get his. I find the act of buying a coffee for someone else charming, and think you should do it if it makes you feel good. I object, however, to the notion that something like this is newsworthy or extraordinary, as the NPR reporters characterize it.
As Steve observes, given what we could be doing through individual charity, perhaps buying coffee for a person who can already afford that coffee is an urge we could re-direct.
Here’s my suggestion for Starbucks.
(1) Add a “pay it forward” menu item. They could offer it tall for $1, grande for $2.50, and venti for $5. Do they still do trenta? Add a trenta at $10.
(2) Pick a national charity each month, or each quarter. Pick ones that address root causes of economic inequality, racism, or access to health care. Think about organizations fighting against hunger or homelessness, or advocating for early childhood education for all students.
(3) Encourage customers, and stores, to compete to see who can get the longest chain of “pay it forward” donors.
The line at the Florida Starbucks was over 450 customers long. Imagine if each of them gave $2.50, and 100 other stores around the country did the same in a given month. That would be a six-figure donation to the charity, which is no small gift.
If Starbucks customers were regularly donating this way, that would be extraordinary, and worthy of a story on the radio.
Steve, I’ll buy the next cuppa if we can make this happen.