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Philanthropubs

okra saloonA “new generation of beer halls” is donating all profits to charity, reports Kirk Johnson in The New York Times (1/21/13). “More people will want to support your business than if you’re just doing it to pay for your second home,” says Ryan Saari of Oregon Public House in Portland, which will have a paid staff but otherwise give away the dollar profit of each pint of “locally brewed draft costing $4.50 to $5.00.” Funds to open the pub are through “grants from the city and private donations — about 30 people have given between $1,500 and $2,500, support levels that come with a free beer a day, or a week, for life, and their own mug.”

Ryan says he recognizes “that success or failure would hinge on the transparency of the economics. If customers suspect, even for a moment, that what smells like good works is really just a clever business model, the effort is doomed.” Because of that, “the pub’s books will be open for the checking … and customers will be able to choose from a menu on the wall exactly where they want their contribution to go as part of the order itself.” Ryan eventually “hopes to see bottled Oregon Public House beers in local stores, with each type of beer dedicated to a specific cause.”

In a similar vein, at the Okra Charity Saloon in Houston, “patrons get a vote with every drink as to which charity should receive the next month’s profits.” At Shebeen, a planned pub in Melbourne, Australia, the idea will be to link the donation to a beer’s country of origin, so that an African beer might be linked to microloans, for example. Cause, a “philanthropub” in Washington DC, says the concept appeals to young people who might not otherwise give to charity. “Everything is competing for their attention, and this is another way for people to combine charitable giving with something they’re doing anyway,” says Raj Ratwani, a cognitive psychologist and Cause co-founder.