CAUSE - The PhilanthroPub

idea by nvilelle

Applicant Name

First and Last Name:

Nick Vilelle



What inspired your idea?


CAUSE was, appropriately, an idea developed over a beer at a bar in 2006. I had just completed my Peace Corps service and Raj (my business partner at CAUSE) and I wondered why all the money spent on social activities couldn’t be used simultaneously to create good in the world. We spent the next five years refining the idea and working to establish an internally sustainable business model. 1.5 years ago, I left my job to put that plan in motion. We opened our doors for operation on October 24, 2012.

What’s your social impact business idea?


CAUSE makes charitable giving more accessible by doing it through the operation of a restaurant and bar. CAUSE donates 100% of profits to vetted, grassroots organizations that are in need of funds, allowing them to scale their impact to previously unreached beneficiaries. CAUSE lowers the barrier for people to participate in charity by including it in everyday living, thus motivating and educating younger donors. Once on board, this community becomes a powerful force for social good.

What is your impact and how is it relevant to the business?


CAUSE’s impact will come from the money and exposure that we generate for our featured organizations, helping them scale their impact. We are on track to donate $50k in 2013 from the DC location.

How will you establish sustainable impact in the locations you wish to serve?


The status quo is that charitable organizations are constantly forced to ask people for donations, spending much of their limited time and resources writing grant proposals instead of delivering services. Bars are operated for profit and, when successful, make their owners wealthy. The CAUSE model flips the script by taking a business with good profit margins and uses it to generate funds and critical exposure for top-performing organizations.
CAUSE is completely self-sustaining and doesn’t require donations to achieve its mission. Using an innovative business model and impact investments, we will create a brand that represents our way of business, and then look at expansion opportunities.

What does success look like, including measurements and reporting on the business and your impact?


After proving the model, we will franchise to new cities and countries. There is a huge opportunity to do this in developing countries. We have already fielded franchising inquiries from interested groups in 20 cities. Our goal is to ramp up to 10 locations in the next five years and eventually reach hundreds of cities, generating donations of $10M+ annually. With 10 locations, we'll be connecting 300k customers per year with organizations that need this critical exposure. We are tracking how this exposure will also impact the organizations’ web traffic, social media, and individual direct donations.

What would $50,000 mean for your business? And how will it help your company better reach its goals?


It would help us to scale our business model more quickly. We will use half of the funds to add additional square footage onto our DC location, helping us ramp up our donations more quickly, proving the model. We will use the second half of the money to pursue one of the many second locations that we have been contacted about. Right not, Baltimore is looking like a great opportunity, with a committed partner, willing to contribute the building for CAUSE Baltimore.

8 Pink-talk-bubble-tail

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This is such a great way for people to start expanding they way they think about philanthrophy and social entrepreneurship. Giving customers the choice of where their money goes is so key and is very well done here. I had an amazing experience and I hope franchising is a great success!

over 2 years ago | Reply

by Chandra11
over 2 years ago | Reply

I love this place and this idea! The food is good and beer selection is terrific. It also attracts cool patrons. I went here for an AmeriCorps + PeaceCorps happy hour knowing no one and immediately connected with several people.
I really hope this catches on.

by emtamlyn
over 2 years ago | Reply

This is a well-thought out business-social venture and as a local nonprofit in DC, we're proud to support CAUSE The Philanthropub.

by Academy of Hope
over 2 years ago | Reply

As a Business Advisor working for an international NGO I fully support the idea of adopting an entrepreneurial approach to charity work. Adopting a business mindset is the only sustainable way in which non-profits can ensure their sustainability and therefore the continuous scaling up of their impact. Kudos to Nick and Raj for such a brilliant idea

by samkelo.sukati
over 2 years ago | Reply

As a member of the Board of Directors of the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, DC, I want to congratulate Nick and Raj on behalf of everyone who has struggled with the challenge of creating a sustainable model for a nonprofit effort. CAUSE taps into the local economy to fuel community development. They blur the line between patrons and participants. Peace Corps is all about serving two worlds, and I want to see CAUSE bring that ethos to more communities. I hope my friends will show their support.

by carobinson
over 2 years ago | Reply

Splendid idea! It is an uncomfortable fact that there are a lot of miserable persons in this world. Most of us would like to do something to alleviate out of a sense of fairness but we have become inured because anything we try is not going to make much difference. The thought itself depresses us and who wants to be depressed! Nick and his partner Raj have come up with the idea, which is being realized, for the rest of us who will frequent the Pub, many times I hope, to not even not even think about philantrophy and the noble cause of reducing poverty while each of us are actually doing something about it. Full marks!

by s.g.sampath
over 2 years ago | Reply

We would love to have your support! We continue to get requests from all over the US and abroad from people that would like to have this kind of pub in their city. Please help us make it happen! We can help a lot of people in a sustainable manner and have a lot of fun doing it.

by nvilelle
over 2 years ago | Reply

Circle-1-inactive Step1-title-idea-inactive

Submission Began
Monday, April 22

Submission Ended
Friday, May 17
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-2-inactive Step2-title-voting-inactive

Voting Began
Friday, May 31

Voting Ended
Friday, June 14
at 12:00 PM PDT

Circle-3 Step3-title

Winner Announced
Tuesday, July 02

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