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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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