Behind the NCA Coffee Gives Back Program

By William (Bill) Murray, President & CEO, National Coffee Association


“The farmer has to be an optimist, or he wouldn’t be a farmer.” 

Will Rogers, U.S. Social Commentator, 1879-1935  

More than any other pursuit, successful farming depends on “external” factors.  Successful farming depends upon some things that can’t be controlled easily, and some things that can’t be controlled at all.

Successful farming depends upon the right weather, and access to water for crops and animals.  Farmers depend upon governments to provide sound roads, bridges, and transportation infrastructure such as ports to get produce to market.  Farmers need access to credit and financing, specialized agronomy techniques, and tools, from machinery to fertilizers.  Farmers need access to social services such as healthcare, something that can’t be taken for granted in many rural areas where farms are located.  Fluctuating prices, determined by market factors, also impact a farmer’s success.

Regardless of the crop – tomatoes, wheat, soybeans, or coffee – some farmers meet these challenges more readily than others.  In fact, the world’s coffee farmers represent a diverse range in terms of the size, scale, and sophistication of their operations – from large mechanized farms to the world’s 25 million small coffee farmers.

But what makes coffee unique is that many organizations work, on a daily basis, to help those coffee farmers who are struggling.  There are farmer support programs that are government funded, corporate funded, and funded by religious institutions.  There are programs focused on agronomy, programs built around gender equity, and programs designed to help whole coffee communities, not just coffee farmers.

These programs carry on their work in far and distant places month after month, often staffed by volunteers, often working to encourage long-term changes where the accomplishments take time to reveal themselves.  This isn’t the kind of work that results in click-bait friendly headlines that entice readers and drive traffic – and yet it is important, for so many reasons.

This is why the NCA is launching the “Coffee Gives Back” program – to be part of, to support, and to help raise awareness of the good work being done in coffee communities around the world – “at origin” – the places where coffee is grown.  This program is intended to complement – not duplicate – the work being done by so many: to celebrate that work, and to encourage others to support that work in whichever way feels right.

By using our platform – the National Coffee Association – we will shine a spotlight on the nonprofits organizations and charities that are dedicated to helping coffee communities around the world, and next year we will roll out “phase II” recognizing the work done by corporations.

Our goal is to provide a platform for organizations to share their stories about their work – the facts, the people, the outcomes – and inspire others, and other ideas, in the years to come.


The program is comprised of two parts:

The NCA Coffee Gives Back Showcase is an online industry resource that will aggregate and highlight reputable charities dedicated to supporting the coffee community at origin. All eligible organizations are invited to apply; NCA membership is not a prerequisite for inclusion.

The NCA Coffee Give Back Award will be presented at the NCA Annual Convention, in front of leaders and executives from across the coffee industry. The award is based on organizations’ demonstrated creativity, innovation, and achieved objectives. Eligible organizations must be a part of the Showcase, and submit an additional application for consideration.

Visit the NCA website to learn more about the Coffee Gives Back Program or download an application. The deadline for award submission is Dec. 15, 2017.

Related Reading

Being Responsible: A Practical Guide for Your Association CSR Program

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