All the profits! Amazingly, Cause gives 100% of its profits to charity. Why? Co-founder Nick Vilelle explains, “It’s easier and more transparent. When a company says ‘a portion of the proceeds’ or ‘10% of the profits’ go to charity, what does that mean? How much does that amount to? We make it clear and simple: after we’ve paid our bills, the rest goes to charity.”
Nonprofits in rotation. Cause’s first featured nonprofits—Agora Partnerships, Common Good City Farm, Higher Achievement, Martha’s Table—span a few different causes. (Full disclosure, Common Good City Farm and Martha’s Table are Network for Good customers.) By choosing different areas (entrepreneurship empowerment, food security and access, and education), Cause allows customers to connect with the issue closest to their hearts.
Charity choice. Patrons decide which of the featured charities they’d like to support by demarking their choice on the bill. They can also share their email address, so that Cause can close the loop on where their money went. This is smart for two reasons:
1) People, especially Millennials, want to know where their donations go.
2) It gives people the chance to connect to their cause without any added effort.
“We wanted to make sure people had the opportunity to get excited about cause. For instance, if we featured four education-focused nonprofits, and education wasn’t your issue, you might not be interested in the cause element.”
Put your money where your mouth is. Vilelle and co-founder Raj Ratwani are doing just that. From the sustainable decor—turn-of-the-century apple barrel bottoms morph into customizable stools, donated pews double as bar seating, 1930s National Geographic magazines line the walls—to the use of all animal parts (see: Trotter Tots) and support of local, seasonal foods, the Cause team looks at sustainability as an integral part of their business model. Even charities must prove their sustainability to be qualified as featured nonprofits.
“We believe this is the future of business. Now maybe not all businesses will wind up giving 100% of their profits away—I acknowledge that’s extreme—but more and more businesses are seeing the benefit of multiple bottom lines.”
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All photos taken by author.