by Mitchell Culman
New Belgium has shown a long-standing commitment to creating a sustainable business. In this process New Belgium has created a section of their company specifically aimed at creating stories that promote the values the company holds dear. In many of these stories there is a corporate social responsibility issue that New Belgium has chosen to address at times far beyond the legal requirement. One example revolves around their Waterkeeper Alliance, an interesting initiative that shows how a company can stay sustainable in fun and non traditional ways. We wanted to highlight how companies in the industry have chosen unique paths to meet sustainability goals. By choosing an organization whose values are similar to theirs, New Belgium has aligned themselves with an organization that can help achieve their goals. In this instance the alliance is strategically beneficial for both companies as they gain more support from each other.
The Waterkeeper Alliance
Beer requires lots and lots of water. According to, Alexandra Alter of the Wall Street Journal, “It takes roughly 20 gallons of water to make a pint of beer,” shocking to think about as we are surrounded by a drinking culture (www.wallstreejournal.com). New Belgium has recognized that water is a resource worth protecting and as a producer of beer (someone who uses mass amounts of water) they have a chance to make a real impact. Not only do they have the opportunity but they have seized it. The program created a campaign called, “Save the Colorado” working at the prevention of the diversion of water from the Cache la Pudre, (the source of New Belgium’s water) the water is run off from the Colorado Glade Reservoir. The campaign has accumulated $75,000 in grant money for their Waterkeeper initiatives (www.newbelium.com). The program is a continuing the initiative that began in 2009 but has taken a quirky new turn to gain more involvement.
The Summer Seasonal Skinny Dip
In order to raise money and awareness for this issue New Belguim has, “joined forces with Waterkeeper’s Swimmable Waters campaign across our social media platforms, encouraging fans to upload photos with #WaterkeeperDip to help raise awareness for clean water defense.”(www.newbelium.com). This enables their consumers to develop a relationship with the company while supporting a cause through their choice of purchase. As a reward New Belgium has promised to, “feature our favorite photos on our accounts, and donate $1 to the Waterkeeper Alliance per tagged photo, up to $10,000.”(www.newbelium.com). By having a product (a “Skinny Dip” beer released at the time of the campaign) directly correlate to a cause, New Belgium is able to create transparency through the power of purchase. Consumers know that they have the potential to raise awareness and aid through interaction with the company. The awareness factor of the online presence should also be considered as the requirement for social media accounts create a widespread viewership as followers of these individuals will see the images.
The Relationship Aspect
By not directly creating the initiative but rather tackling it via proxy, New Belgium has allowed for little capital investment but lots of potential value. In this strategic relationship the Waterkeeper Alliance works as an independent agency who, “patrol more than 2 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia, and Africa” and would “fight polluters in courts of law, before regulatory agencies and in the court of public opinion on behalf of threatened communities and their life-sustaining water resources,” allowing New Belgium to be a supporter of a large network with a specific focus on their watershed (www.waterkeeper.org). This is an awesome example of how organizations can work together to achieve goals in ways that help not only the organizations but the community around them. It is important to remember that goals do not always have to be in conflict and the solution may require external help.