Given the explosive growth of the number of Beer Festivals and Events held each year, and the increasing demand upon NYS brewers to donate their beer and resources for those festivals and events, the NYSBA believes it is in the best interest of its membership to establish a Bill of Rights and Guidelines for Brewers Participation in Beer Festivals and Events.
Given that objective, it should be clearly understood that while the NYSBA offers these Bill of Rights and Guidelines to its membership, these are not intended to be declaratory mandates for NYSBA member breweries to follow, void of conscious thought. Every brewery needs to evaluate its own marketing practices and charitable donation policies while at the same time clearly understanding their own rights and the importance of protecting their brand in the face of the distinct differences in events that our members may choose to participate in.
It appears that there are generally three common types of events; (a) For-profit events, (b) 100% Not-for-Profit events, and (c) Events that purport to allocate a portion of the funds raised through ticket sales for a charitable cause (blended event).
The objective of the For-Profit event is clear and should be clearly understood by the NYSBA member. The objective of the individual(s) or entity running such an event is to make as much money as possible from ticket sales and related commerce stemming from that event. Certainly, the right to engage in such a business is a well protected American right.
The objective of the 100% Not-For-Profit event is to raise money for a qualified 26 U.S.C 501 entity or organization and its mission cause.
The objective of the event that purports to donate a portion of the proceeds of ticket sales and related commerce to a charitable cause is not as clear. While some are well intentioned, the possibility of misleading the public, lack of transparency and/or intentional misconduct is possible, and each event must be carefully examined to fully understand how the proceeds of such events are handled.
Every brewer and brewery works extremely hard to craft its product and build its brand. Therefore, the NYSBA offers the following declaration of rights so that every member may feel confident in knowing what should reasonably be expected from a festival or event promoter.
There is a common misconception that New York State craft breweries are part of a young and struggling industry and need to participate in the multitude of festivals and events for exposure. This logic is carried to the extreme in some cases with attitudes and expectations of promoters and organizers who believe that breweries should willingly give their beer away for free.
The reality is that our industry has matured and the NYSBA encourages you to carefully consider whether to participate in any such festival or events either 1) because of your own philanthropic philosophy to support events and organizations that you believe in, or 2) you value the marketing opportunity that the event in which you participate affords.
Breweries that continue to give beer away without a sound evaluation of the opportunity are not only cheapening their own craft brand, but also the entire New York craft category by implicitly legitimizing the misconception that we’re desperate for exposure.
Therefore, in addition a Bill of Rights, the Board of Directors of the New York State Brewers Association have approved a set of suggested Guidelines for all craft brewers in the state to use as a blueprint to not only collectively protect each individual brewing brand, but also to ensure each brewery is receiving what it should in terms of proper compensation or in-kind services for these numerous and varied events. They are:
With that said, the NYSBA recognizes that smaller breweries may face staffing challenges. So consider other forms of representation, such as a distributor brand managers, friends of the brewery (if properly educated on your brand), or other close relationships that will best represent you and your brewery. Remember, quality, integrity and authenticity of your brand is a sacred asset – do not treat it as a disposable commodity.
A request for a donation in connection with a charitable cause is reasonable. Many of those causes are worthy, and as members of the community in which they operate, your policy as a brewery may decide to honor such a request for the donation of beer with no strings attached. However, the NYSBA encourages you to carefully examine whether the charitable nature of the event is truly charitable and ask for the written verification of their 501(c) status.
Furthermore, ask that the request for the donation be in writing and have the request include the name of the charity and what is their mission. The organizer of the charity event should be clear in providing the details of the event. As part of your decision to participate or not participate, if you have a distributor relationship, you should clearly understand the constraints they may place on your policy of donations. It may be necessary to try and cultivate the same vision of your policy of donations with that of your distributor, in order to avoid embarrassing mixed results in your donation strategy.
In addition, you should set a schedule for examining requests and getting back to the requesting organization in writing – even if it is a “no”. While you may be bombarded with requests, the discipline in following your policy consistently will not only help you manage the flow of requests, but also allow the charities that seek your donation, to understand the volume of requests you may receive may be far greater than the level of donations that you are able to make.
Finally, keep detailed records of your donations. This will not only allow you to 1) see and understand the amount you may have donated to a particular organization in the past, but also 2) safely claim the accurate value of your donation of beer on your business entity taxes.
We must remain unified in what New York breweries have to offer and look to accentuate the positive in what NYS local really means. By maintaining the high road, we will not only garner the respect of our fellow industry members, but also demonstrate by leadership that we all have to work to preserve the fundamental quality of brotherhood and collegiality that makes our industry so attractive.
These RIGHTS and GUIDELINES are designed, written and endorsed by the Board of Directors of the New York State Brewers Association with the best interests of the New York State Craft Brewery in mind and with the objective to ensure that everyone receives fair recognition, compensation and respect for all of the dedication, effort and hard work associated with this craft. If we all demonstrate unity and follow a common practice based on these RIGHTS and GUIDELINES, everyone stands to benefit in the end.
Approved by the NYSBA Board of Directors – 2014:
|David Katleski – President||Dave Schlosser|
|Chris Ericson – Treasurer||Gregg Stacy|
|Rich Vandenburgh – Secretary||Vince Vaccaro|
|Ethan Cox||Robin Ottaway|