Instead of Tips, Customers Give Community Donations at This Vermont Taproom

Lawson’s Finest Liquids presented nearly $80,000 to area nonprofits on Giving Tuesday

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More than 30 central Vermont nonprofits benefitted this Giving Tuesday from a surprising source: craft beer.

Inside the taproom at Lawson's Finest Liquids in Waitsfield, the "beer tenders" who serve beer, cider, kombucha and other beverages are a bit unusual in that they don't take tips from customers -- that's the policy at Lawson's.

The maker of Sip of Sunshine, a popular IPA, and other beers said in an interview Tuesday that it pays its employees a living wage with benefits generous enough that they don't need to rely on tips.

So the money that taproom employee J.P. Krol would've taken home if he worked for a business with a tip-based model instead goes to charity.

"It feels really nice to be able to give back to those communities we're all a part of," Krol said.

A lot of questions should be asked before you give a monetary donation to a charity.

On Giving Tuesday, the owners of Lawson's Finest Liquids awarded nearly $80,000 to 32 area nonprofits.

"The community takes care of each other," Karen Lawson said of the Mad River Valley, noting that recipients of donations focus on making Vermont a healthier place to live.

Hannah's House, a nonprofit that has offices in Waitsfield and Waterbury, was one of the recipients.

"There's no demographic that hasn't been substantially affected through this pandemic with their mental health," said Chrissy Rivers, the executive director of Hannah's House.

The organization breaks down barriers to mental health treatment, including through providing group and individual counseling at the local high school.

Rivers accepted $5,000 collected by the Lawson's team.

"Those funds, in a place like Hannah's House, can provide high-quality mental health care, where someone who is under-insured or uninsured wouldn't be able to access that elsewhere," Rivers said.

Through re-thinking tipping, Lawson said, the beer maker is strengthening its community connections, year-round.

"We can give kindness to other people," Karen Lawson added. "It's not just on Giving Tuesday."

GlobalGiving is a nonprofit that connects other nonprofits to donors and companies and offers gift cards to give a charitable donation on someone’s behalf during the holidays.

The Giving Tuesday initiative is just one part of Lawson's Social Impact Program, Karen Lawson noted. The program has donated more than $1 million overall to Vermont nonprofits since 2018, according to the company.

Other recipients from Lawson's Giving Tuesday effort included the North Central Vermont Recovery Center, Burlington Dismas House, Prevent Child Abuse Vermont, Mad River Valley Community Fund and Mad River Valley Seniors.

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