Interview with Adam Robinson, Streetsmart Founder and CEO

StreetSmart is a Melbourne based not-for-profit organisation with an Australia-wide focus on supporting the homeless, and working to end homelessness in Australia. With its CafeSmart initiative hitting Australia again on the 7th of August, we caught up with StreetSmart’s founder and CEO, Adam Robinson.

What is StreetSmart?

We are an independent not-for-profit taking action against homelessness

You were in the corporate sector before this, what was the catalyst that made you start StreetSmart?

I was sick of the lack of action by governments to tackle homelessness.  They seem okay with the fact that 100,000 people each night don’t have a safe and secure place to call home.  As a community we need to do much more so I decided to do just that.

How does StreetSmart work?

We raise funds and awareness to drive change in the community and for people experiencing homelessness. We raise funds through two national events partnerning with the hospitality industry, CafeSmart and DineSmart, and also have our own crowdfunding platform. We direct the funds to support smaller grassroots homeless services who don’t get the support they should from government and struggle to be heard by the community. Larger NGO’s (non-government organisations) can look after themselves so we are here to help the little guys. We have two key principles – we pass on 100% of all the proceeds from DineSmart and CafeSmart and we keep it local. We look at where the funds are raised and look to support projects in that area.

StreetSmart projects have a very Kickstarter approach, what sort of challenges do you face?

We have built our impact on the principle of micro donations. Asking many people to chip in what they can to pool that resource and direct it for social impact.  Our events ask people to donate $1 or $2 or more. We have just launched our own crowdfunding platform to help smaller organisations harness the power of digital fundraising through telling their story and asking people to fund their priority needs.

How are you measuring your success?

We stay in close contact with the projects we fund and seek feedback. These reports can be verbal or written and we often visit the services and talk to staff and clients when we can. 18 months ago we had an SROI (social return on investment) report done to measure our impact and gain insight into our grants program. The SROI for our community grants was $3.85, meaning for each $1 we grant there is a social impact of $3.85.

“for each $1 we grant there is a social impact of $3.85”

How do people get involved?

So many ways – cafes and restaurants can sign up to be part of our events, and the public are asked to also be part of those events. We also ask people to donate through our crowdfunding site to directly fund projects. We also have active social media so you can join the conversation and help raise awareness to your networks. We are always interested to talk with businesses and individuals who want to help.

Streetsmart: Cafesmart

Cafesmart is a great initiative, especially for coffee-addicted Melbournians, how did it come about?

It was a logical progression of our DineSmart concept. Through DineSmart we mostly partner with restaurants, so we couldn’t let Cafes and their customers feel left out!! We actually had coffee businesses keen to help out so we discussed how that might look and within a few months we had CafeSmart up and running. Cafes are such important community hubs that to be bringing the industry together for a day of action to fund homeless projects was such a great fit.

How do people find CafeSmart cafes?

Check out the CafeSmart Map.

What’s next for StreetSmart?

Keep building our impact as homelessness ain’t going away anytime soon.

Images courtesy of StreetSmart.

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Chris
Chris
Chris is an editor, writer, and occasional novelist who in a former life published online magazines for a living while working out of obscure coffee shops. He has travelled extensively and has eaten and enjoyed exotic delights ranging from instant ‘just add water’ potatoes while on a Russian train to snails and Brie from a tiny Montreal kitchen. Chris is a great lover of the experiences around and associated with food and believes the culture of a venue, as quirky or strange as it might be, is just as important as the food it sells. He is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast dedicated to the lighter side of craft beer.

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