What are Craft Breweries Doing for the Community?
Remember when you first opened your brewery… how long it took to get everything in order, setup the equipment, finally get that first sale.
Remember when you were first asked to donate product for an event… wait, what? Giving away beer and gear was not in your initial vision. You had just made your dream come true and had just enough resources to keep your brewery going; why did you need to give resources away?
Interacting with the community began when your brewery began. Although it’d be easier to just ignore the requests, the community is a necessary dependent you need for your brewery to survive. You need customers and the community needs you.
How do you support the community when you need to support yourself?
Luckily, the craft beer industry has cultivated several different creative ways to give back to the community, including some that do not require any cash or product. In honor of tomorrow’s Colorado Gives Day we wanted to provide a general overview of how craft breweries have been able to engage with their community
- Overview: Breweries are constantly inundated with donation requests. These requests can often range from asking for beer to give away at events, beer to be given away at festivals, a portion of funds generated from special tap room nights and more. As a brewery its important to work closely with the organization requesting the donation to ensure that your donation is being appropriately recognized, because often promotion falls to the wayside on both ends. While its great to give just for the purpose of giving, its also important as a developing brewery to get your name out and establish you community involvement.
- Overview: Breweries that focus their giving have written clear guidelines on how much product they can give away and have chosen specific causes they support. In addition, they often have a community link on their website or list a specific contact for donation requests. Requests are directed to one staff member and the causes they support are mentioned on their website and social media. They donate only product, but satisfaction is greater because of the increased focus and tracking of impacts.
- Example: Ska Brewing Company has easy-to-find guidelines on its website for its giving and defines the charities it will and will not support. Great Divide Brewery also donates all proceeds raised from any tasters purchased in their tap rooms to a rotating list of local nonprofits. Those rotating organizations are clearly listed in their tap room. Similarly, Copper Kettle has a Pints for a Purpose program every Tuesday where $1 of every pint goes toward a rotating charity. Two22 Brewing takes giving to an entirely new level. Two22 has a happy hour deal where a specific group (teachers, veterans, etc.) gets a discount, but even more powerful is the fact that they’ve made it their mission to donate 22% of their profits to local Colorado charities Translation, for every $10 they earn $2.22 back to the community.
- Overview: Some breweries start to take more action by holding events or drink specials. For an easy-to-set-up event, some breweries hold “Pint Nights” where they give a portion of sales to a charity. Breweries can also hold a beer festival and choose a charity as a beneficiary.
- Examples: Renegade Brewing Company hosts “MaxFund Mondays” where $1 of a specific beer goes to the MaxFund Animal Shelter. Left Hand Brewing Company holds Hops and Handrails, a beer festival and ski/snowboard competition, where proceeds benefit SOS Outreach, a charity that uses skiing/snowboarding to build character in at-risk youth. Avery Brewing company hosts a number of larger beer festivals throughout the year, like Strong Ale Fest, IPA Fest, Sour Fest and their Anniversary party with a portion of funds raised towards local causes.
- Overview: A few breweries tend to think differently by using their community interactions to bolster their brand identity. Some also use their internal operations to interact with the community, such as by hiring people with disabilities or creating a volunteer project for staff members to support a charity.
- Examples: Dry Dock Brewing Company brewed and distributed a Colorado Freedom Memorial Blonde Ale last May in which all proceeds were donated to the Colorado Freedom Memorial Foundation. Jagged Mountain Brewery created Jagged Pack Project where they collect backpacks and other goods for people who are homeless.
- Overview: At the point where a brewery is donating thousands of dollars, some look into creating their own foundation. By creating a foundation, breweries can fund community projects or initiatives more efficiently as they no longer need to gain stockholders’ approval.
- Examples: Both Left Hand Brewing Company and Oskar Blues created their own foundations, Left Hand Foundation and Can’d Aid, respectively, after the floods in Longmont in 2013.
- Overview: At perhaps the highest level of community involvement, breweries that want to make more decisions based on the community’s needs can look into becoming a B-Corporation. B-Corporations are given legal protection so that ownership can make decisions based on the needs of all stakeholders, not just stockholders.
- Examples: New Belgium Brewery, a certified B-Corporation, is well known for its sustainability and community practices that drive what it does as an organization. Bison Organic Beer in Berkley, CA was the first B-Corp brewery.
Across the nation, breweries are using different techniques to get involved in their communities and be good corporate citizens. Even if you just opened, it is important to develop your relationship with the community. You do not have to give away money either; be creative!
Promote your interactions with the community so they can learn about what you are doing (this is also what more customers are becoming attracted to). Take a look at this interactive map that shows which breweries in Colorado promote their community interactions on their websites and why posting is important.
Brian Phipps is a great friend of the site and the founder of Confluence LLC:
If you are still unsure on what you can do to get your brewery more involved in your local community, need help writing a strategy, or looking for extra help on managing these projects and relationships, visit our website www.ConfluenceLLC.com. At Confluence, we aim to help businesses improve their corporate social responsibility programs to create win-win relationships with the community. With a quality CSR program, you can: (1) attract and create deeper relationships with customers, (2) reduce turnover and recruit passionate employees, (3) improve internal operations that can reduce costs, (4) and become a positive corporate citizen and reliable community member.