Funding a Guild

Funding a guild through membership dues, fundraising and grants is essential to keep the organization running, and vital for protecting the state’s brewing community.

To help keep dues low, guilds often pursue multiple funding sources. These may include state grants that are available for groups promoting in-state products or tourism, beer festivals or hosting other events.

Resources: Fundraising Ideas

Dues/Membership

Funding often starts with multiple levels of membership and dues. Dues for each class of membership are a subject of great debate among many guilds and 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, the stronger the collective voice will be. In a state where most breweries are the same size, a flat rate works and discourages isolating one or two larger brewers. But, in a state where businesses range from small brewpubs to large regional breweries, a sliding scale based on production is often used.

Likewise, associate, retail and enthusiast level dues should be set to encourage participation.

Resources: Dues/Membership – details on membership categories and dues averages across the nation.

Festivals/Events

Guild-sponsored events are not a way to raise a lot of money immediately. However, they can be a part of your strategic funding plan to cultivate future fundraising and boost the profile of craft beer in your community.

Once you’ve learned what works and what doesn’t in your state and carefully constructed of a strong event program, festivals commonly become a guild’s number one source of funding. Unfortunately, one bad event can raise 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 result could be detrimental.

The checklist of best practices for hosting a major fundraising festival (below) was created by our award-winning events team and leaders from guilds nationwide. This document is not meant to be all-encompassing, but it is an excellent starting point to help you put on a 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.

Resources: Event planning checklist,  event participation letter and event application.

Grants

Potential sources of grants range from state government agencies, departments of tourism and agriculture and small business development centers. Grant amounts can also vary greatly by state. One state guild may receive a one-time $40,000 grant, while another guild could get $75,000 each year from the Department of Tourism by demonstrating how much additional income their beer week brings to local hotels, restaurants and the region.

One of the fundamental keys to a guild soliciting and receiving a grant is to demonstrate the economic impact of the state’s craft beer industry. Guilds often contract 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.

Resources: StatisticsEconomic Impact - learn the value of craft beer in your state.