Every Sip Counts

Jacquie Berglund Co-Founder and Executive Director of Finnegans Irish Amber

Since developing its recipe for Irish Amber in the late 90s, Finnegans has presented a tasty beer whose purchase makes an impact. Donating 100 percent of all profits to community projects throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin, founder and executive director Jacquie Berglund has created a model for social entrepreneurs.

Since the business became profitable in 2003, it has donated more than $138,000 to its sister nonprofit, The Finnegans Community Fund, which makes grants to deserving nonprofits. Finnegans aims to give away $45,000 this year. That means selling 3,800 barrels, or 51,000 cases, of the Irish Amber. “I run it like a nonprofit,” Berglund says. “I pay the bills, pay myself a salary and any money that is leftover goes into the Finnegans Community Fund.”

In the spring and fall, the board of directors review grant applications and choose nonprofits to receive up to $2,000 each. They like to follow the proverb, “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” In other words, Berglund explains, “We tend to fund sustainable projects that are capacity building.”

Urban Boatbuilders recently received a Finnegans grant. Through teaching at-risk youth how to build wooden boats, it not only creates an object that can continue to fund the organization, but also gives kids valuable work experience. Since 1995, teenagers from public schools, charter schools and juvenile corrections in the Twin Cities have had the opportunity to practice teamwork and perseverance, and learn the outcome of hard work.

Event, merchandise and beer revenue enable Finnegans to continue to support the communities that consume its beer. More than 1,200 volunteers help dispense beer, hold tastings in liquor stores and volunteer on the social side of the business. Brewing under contract with St. Paul-based Summit Brewery, Berglund streamlines her business towards success. In time, Finnegans may have a portfolio of products and an ever-growing business.

“We’re the only beer company in the world that donates all their profits,” says Berglund. “I’ve always wanted to leave the world a better place than when I got there.” She achieves this dream through a unique business model that allows others to get involved by sharing their skills and a glass of Finnegans Irish Amber. Finnegans gives more than the immediate gratification of drinking a cold one. Drink, share and be merry.

Urban Boatbuilders

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