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Launch Issue
Giving Magazine
Chateau Charly
by Doug White
Bed, breakfast and a bridge to development in Haiti and Sri Lanka, this social enterprise is giving its guests the power to give back.

Stay in a hotel—rather, a chateau—and help charity at the same time? Yes. No, it’s not a come-on scheme where a “portion of the proceeds,” which usually means something minuscule relative to the overall take, is advertised to be donated to a cause organization that may or may not be made known to you. This is different.

It’s Chateau Charly, located on the outskirts of Charly, France and run as a nonprofit (or, "association," as they are known in that country). It sends along a full 50 percent of what it takes in for room rentals to one of two charities.

Sarah Griffiths, the founder of both charities—Bridge2SriLanka, set in motion after the Asian tsunami in 2004, and Bridge2Haiti, launched after the Haitian earthquake in 2010—was traveling with a friend after the earthquake. The friend, Paul Solomons, a wealthy businessman, took her on a visit to Chateau Charly, at the time a run-down, 32-acre mess of a place. When he said he was thinking of buying it and asked for her help in the renovation, she promptly declined, her hands full with fundraising for both countries and their respective disasters.

That’s when he confessed that the idea would be to operate Chateau Charly as a nonprofit extravagance, a vehicle to channel proceeds directly to Griffiths’ already established philanthropic goals.

She agreed, and has helped the manor become a tight ship of charitable destination ever since.

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