Drinking for Charity: “Philanthropubs”


Nonprofit pubs, or “philanthropubs” are the newest trend.
Image: Shutterstock

Nonprofit pubs are the new trend around the world.  As the popularity of craft breweries rises, many beer-related businesses are looking for ways to create community ties and help people who are struggling after the economic downturn.  In the book Making Good, authors Billy Parrish and Dev Aujila discuss how the digital age has given rise to “global empathy”, especially among people aged 20-30.  Global empathy means we all feel more for poverty stricken societies and victims of disasters because we are more connected than we have ever been.  Social enterprises are also gaining momentum, so it does not seem surprising that young people are starting fun, creative businesses with a mission to help others.

Portland, Oregon is the craft brewing capital of the world, with the most breweries per capita than any other city.  It is also known for activism, conservation and youthful exuberance, and has the highest concentration of nonprofits and community organizations than anywhere in America.  Thus, Public House was born, with the claim of being the world’s first nonprofit brew pub.  The pub opened on May 17th and serves a full menu and local craft beer.  Customers get to choose from eight charities, several of which are local community organizations but also include a microfinance group and Habitat for Humanity.

Shebeen also opened this year in Melbourne, Australia.  Shebeen was inspired by the owners’ travel and volunteer work in Africa, and modeled the bar after the popular street bars in various countries.  The bar focuses on beer, wine and cuisine from developing countries like Laos and Ethiopia, and all of the profits on alcohol are given to global development charities.  The profits are divided according to which items sell the best; for example all South African wine sales give money to Room to Read in South Africa. Shebeen is the South African version of a “speakeasy” of sorts.

An Indiegogo campaign for United Libations in San Fransisco recently closed, hoping to raise enough money to bring the trend to San Fransisco.  Founder Nishi Boppana is promoting the bar by throwing various parties around the city.  There are also bars in Houston and Washington D.C. that are giving profits away to charity.  Cause, the bar in Washington, calls itself a “philanthropub”.


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