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Charity on Tap: Should We Applaud Selling Beer for a Cause?

Craft beerMove over, craft beer. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the latest trend at the public house is to offer a portion of profits from its beer sales to charity. This might be a new direction for the beer industry, but the charity-driven business model is already practiced by well-known companies like Toms (one pair of shoes donated for every pair purchased) and Vitamma (two year supply of vitamins supplied to three children with every Vitamma Multi purchased). While some companies may have designed their corporate charters with philanthropy in mind, I suspect the true driving force behind the beer-for-charity movement has more to do with capitalizing on the ethical consumerism trend than it does with altruism. In fact, there are public relations and marketing firms, like this one, that help such businesses with their “corporate social responsibility and cause marketing” needs. The news about pubs sending their profits to charity reminded me of a lecture given by Dr. Yaron Brook, president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. Brook suggested that Bill Gates created more wealth for others and had a greater social impact by founding Microsoft than he ever could through the work of the Gates Foundation. Basically, Brook makes the moral case for being selfish—for creatively and passionately pursuing our own happiness and benefitting others in the process. I wonder what Brook would think of the beer-for-charity movement. For my part, I find it a little ironic that it just might be the pub owners’ self-interested thoughts—that more people will buy their beer if a portion of the profits is donated to charity—that motivates their decision to give in the first place. Should we raise our glasses to these enterprising efforts? You decide. Photo by crystal_luxmore