Starbucks Pays Workers to Spend Half Their Time Volunteering

By helping its workers spend their time giving back to the community, the company hopes it will keep their employees happier and reduce turnover.


(Sorbis /

Almost 63 million Americans spend some of their time volunteering, with the average American donating around 32 hours per year. All in all, that comes out to 7.9 billion hours of service every year.

That's an impressive number, but unfortunately, it's still not enough. To do its part in getting more people to volunteer their time, Starbucks announced that it is launching a test program that will let their full-time employees split their work hours between working at their branch and volunteering for local nonprofits.

By helping its workers spend their time giving back to the community, the company hopes it will keep their employees happier and reduce turnover.

So far, 36 workers have been selected for the program across 13 different cities. The selected employees will spend half of their 40-hour work week at their Starbucks location while spending the other 20 hours at a charity. Despite spending half of their time at work, they will still be receiving all of their full-time benefits.

The program, which is being called the Service Fellows pilot, is being facilitated through Points of Light, a nonprofit volunteering group. Over the course of the 6-month pilot, the volunteers will collectively provide 17,000 hours of community service at charities that include helping the environment, feeding the hungry, aiding the homeless, supporting refugees, and facilitating disaster relief.

“Starbucks partners have a passion for service both in and out of their stores. The program powers that passion through philanthropy and partnerships to have the greatest impact,” said Virginia Tenpenny, vice president of global social impact at Starbucks and executive director of The Starbucks Foundation.

“Our Service Fellows pilot is an innovative model that combines work, service, and partnerships, a model that will inform how we catalyze our partners and grantees to create enduring change in our communities,” she added.

Points of Light will be paying the Service Fellows through a grant provided by the Starbucks Foundation. If the pilot is found to be successful, Starbucks might start recruiting more workers for the initiative in fall 2019.

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