San Francisco may get its first nonprofit bar

A group in the city wants to establish a drinking establishment that gives its proceeds to charity.

By Bruce Kennedy Aug 2, 2013 1:47PM

Bottles on Shelves in Bar
© Johner/Getty ImagesThere are all kinds of drunks: happy, sentimental, belligerent, flirty and sleepy, just to name a few. But how about philanthropic? Do a couple of drinks make you want to help out your fellow humans? A group in San Francisco hopes it will.

The organization United Libations has come up with what may become San Francisco's first nonprofit bar -- a place where patrons can get inebriated secure in the knowledge their booze money is going to a good cause.

United Libations is pledging to donate 100% of its profits to development projects around the world. Last month the group began a series of fundraising events around San Francisco -- complete with a bar, music and entertainment -- with a goal of bringing in at least $8,500.

The group has already picked out some charities its foundation wants to help fund: English classes for orphans in Haiti (to "dramatically improve their employability") and a rainwater collection system for a town in Uganda.

So far, United Libations hasn't met its fundraising target. But according to its website on the Indiegogo funding platform, it will hold six "pop-up" parties to determine if there's enough public interest in seeing the bar sign a lease and find more permanent digs.

Some people have expressed doubts over the venture, particularly related to such issues as overhead, insurance and whether the IRS would even allow the concept of a nonprofit bar.

But in an ongoing discussion on Reddit, United Libations founder Nishigandha "Nishi" Boppana says at least 25% of each drink is guaranteed to go towards charity. "Based on any remainder profits over consecutive months," she added, "we'll consider how much needs to go to re-investment, and then donate the rest as well so that profit donated is always 100%."

And no, unfortunately, your drinking expenses at United Libations would not be tax-deductible. Nishi points out that a bar, as a business, cannot legally be incorporated as a nonprofit. And in response, the group has set up United Libations as two legal entities -- a company that runs the business operations and a nonprofit organization that handles the donations and distributions to charity projects.

Boppana writes that the ultimate goal of United Libations is to "create a sustainable business that constantly generates revenue -- which constantly funds development projects around the world." Let's drink to that.

More on moneyNOW

Aug 2, 2013 2:52PM
Tell me why it is that soooo many U.S. non profits go to fixing other countries, what is wrong with fixing things in the country you live in, there is ALL kinds of NEEDS right here in the good ol' US OF A .
Aug 2, 2013 2:41PM
Yeah, I can just hear it now, Honey, I'm going downtown tonight to do a little charity work.  Help out the less fortunate.
Aug 2, 2013 3:22PM
Non profits are a joke. The "administrative" costs keep their executives earning six figure salaries and donated dollars don't have to be directly accounted for.
I watched my local United Way chapter spend $250,000 (yes, it was confirmed eventually!) on a new advertising campaign to get people to become workplace donors. So... did it work? Nope. A quarter of a million dollars on radio spots and billboards that could have fed and clothed people is now gone!
NEVER AGAIN will I donate a dollar to these vultures!

Aug 2, 2013 2:49PM
can you turn your drinking binge into a tax deduction?
Aug 2, 2013 3:45PM
They can start right here in America. If the other nations will not care for their own people why should we?
Aug 2, 2013 3:43PM

That's the same business model of every VFW, DAV, and American Legion with a bar, except that money goes to Veterans and local community programs.  Both are non-profit organizations and neither pays it's officers a salary.


Of course they are also more selective on who gets to use the bar area.

Aug 2, 2013 5:11PM
"The group has already picked out some charities its foundation wants to help fund: English classes for orphans in Haiti (to "dramatically improve their employability" How about teaching the people here to speak english.
Aug 2, 2013 3:47PM
Aug 2, 2013 4:10PM
If Goodwill gets away with their nonsense as a non-profit all organizations should be able to be non-profit. When will Goodwill be investigated for all of its chicanery and fraud.
Aug 2, 2013 4:50PM
I'll have a bleeding heart mary please.
Aug 2, 2013 6:53PM

Let's see. Non-Profit. How do we do that? Well, we open a business, make a lot of money, deduct all our expenses, and what ever is left, we give to charity. So what are our expenses? Well, let's see. All the normal stuff. And saleries. Everyone (at least the management) gets a really big salaries. We don't have to worry about profit, but if there is anything left over after our salaries, well, we give it to charity and then we are non-profit, we make a lot of money, the charity gets a cut, we don't pay taxes, so it's all good.  Works for me.


Ken Gasbarri

Aug 2, 2013 6:40PM
"A man walks into a non-profit bar":  I have a feeling that all of our Late-Night talk show hosts will have a field day trying to come up with the best finishing line for this joke starter!
Aug 2, 2013 5:06PM
BS. This is just another scam, 100% after expenses Anybody can go to any Amer.Legion, VFW, DAV. AmVets and drink, have dinner with a guest, Nobody take a dime for their hard work. We just went through this say thing in Fl. $300,000,000. went to owners, $100,000 to charity. Think, people Think
Aug 2, 2013 4:38PM
There is already a non-profit bar in Grand Forks, ND.
Aug 3, 2013 5:31PM
Aug 2, 2013 2:58PM
Non-profit bars already exist in Houston, Austin, and elsewhere.  It's a great idea!
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