Behind the Campaign: Starbucks

Target has a longstanding relationship with United Way of 1000 Lakes. Year after year, team members donate and volunteer their time in order to make a difference. Last year, Target even placed in United Way’s Top Ten Most Generous Workplaces. In addition to running an annual employee campaign, Target staff invite their customers to give back alongside them. 

Starbucks staff were the first to notice the generous nature of their customers. Many who stopped by to purchase coffee, snacks, and other beverages wanted to leave tips for staff – but Target policy prohibits staff members from accepting tips. Rather than leave this generous energy with nowhere to go, Starbucks team members realized they could pay it forward to benefit the greater good. 

They decided that, since they couldn’t collect tips, they’d start collecting donations for United Way. Staff set out a cup so that anyone who visited the Starbucks counter had the option to give. Originally, they didn’t know how much they would collect – but the initiative turned out to be successful. 

Once donating through the tip jar became an option, it “gained a lot of traction,” said Executive Team Lead Aaron Hallam, who helps manage the Starbucks cafe. “Doing something for the community gives us the chance to connect with our guests and build on our relationships with the community members who visit us.” 

According to Hallam, the Target team was “thrilled” when they won a Best of Award following their 2019 campaign – and the Starbucks staff’s ingenuity played a large role in that success – and in that of furthering their company’s community impact goals. Hallam describes Target as community-focused, citing their mission to help families find joy.

The Starbucks team is definitely fulfilling that mission, as the funds they raise support families all around the Itasca area. Starbucks collects hundreds of dollars each month in addition to Target’s employee donations, all of which return to the community through United Way’s investments in education, health, and financial stability programs. A guest’s spare change might end up supporting a student’s after-school tutoring, an individual’s recovery from addiction, or emergency housing for someone in need. 

And why United Way? “United Way supports so many different programs and causes,” said Store Director Abbey Laine. “There’s a sense of trust that funds and resources will be allocated to address the most pressing needs of our community.”

The Starbucks staff’s desire to make a difference stems from their own life experiences. “Over the years, everyone has witnessed and faced different hardships – staff included” explained Laine. “At some time or another we all might need some help – and giving back helps ensure that it’s there.”

Throughout the year, companies throughout the Itasca area conduct campaigns to empower employees to give back through giving, volunteering, and more. Our ‘Behind the Campaign’ series provides a look at the people and organizations that are a core part of United Way’s supporters. To learn more about planning a workplace giving campaign, volunteering with your team, or more ways to get involved with United Way, visit or email