Fundraising for a brewers guild/association is essential to keep the organization running and vital for protecting the state's brewing community.
Funding often starts with multiple levels of membership and dues.
To help keep dues low, guilds often pursue other funding sources. These may include state grants that are available for groups promoting in-state products or tourism, holding beer festivals, or hosting other events. See the working document of fundraising ideas below.
Dues for each class of membership are a subject of great debate among many guilds/associations. Dues need to be high enough to fund the activities of the organization, but not so high as to discourage membership. Remember, the more brewers involved in your guild/association, the stronger the collective voice.
in a state where most breweries are the same size, a flat rate works for brewers' dues and discourages isolating one or two larger brewers. But in a state with many breweries ranging from small brewpubs to large regional breweries, a sliding scale based on production is often used.
Associate-member, retail-member, and enthusiast-member dues, likewise, should be set to encourage participation. See Dues/Membership page for more details on membership categories and dues averages across the nation.
Guild sponsored events are not a way to raise a lot of money immediately. They can be a part of your strategic plan to cultivate future fundraising, and to boost the profile of craft beer in your community. Eventually, after spending a lot of money, learning what works and what doesn't in the state, and the careful construction of a strong event program, festivals commonly become guilds' number one income source. Unfortunately, one bad event raises all levels of red flags for craft breweries and our highly regulated industry. Events involving alcohol of any type MUST be consciously planned and executed with the utmost competence, or the results could be detrimental.
We've created a basic checklist of best practices through the collaboration of our award winning events team and leaders from guilds nationwide that put on major fundraising festivals. There are books out there on putting on successful festivals and events. This document is not meant to be all-encompassing in details, but is intended to be a basic starting point for your consideration in putting on a brewers guild event that elevates craft beer in your state, shines positive light on your guild's brand, and promotes the guild's craft brewery member businesses.
Potential sources range from state government agencies/departments of tourism and agriculture to small business development centers. One state received a grant for $40k and another guild gets $75k each year from the Department of Tourism by demonstrating how much additional income their beer week brings in to local hotels, restaurants and the region.
One of the fundamental keys to a guild soliciting and receiving a grant is by demonstrating the economic impact of the state's craft industry. Guilds often contract though their state universities to gather data and assemble economic impact statements to demonstrate to elected officials the importance of the craft brewing business in the state.
Examples of economic impact studies, and more on our Industry Defense page under "Economic Impact of Small Brewers."