This evening in the United States, Stella Artois advertised that each glass of their beverage would provide free, clean water in developing countries. According to the advertisement, citizens of these countries walk more than six hours to get clean water that we access by simply walking to our kitchens. Charitable business promotions like this are incredibly common in the United States today. What’s great (and different) about this one is that it is sustainable.

What makes a charity sustainable?, which is the company Matt Damon and Stella Artois are partnering with, offers micro-loans to countries--affordable financing--so that they can access clean, filtered water, and sustain it with economic stimulation and empowerment.

Instead of handing out free bottled water that the people in the villages will continue requiring, they offer small loans to cities in developing countries. By doing so, they stimulate a local economy while also reaffirming the dignity and intelligence of that community.

Why is this ad so significant?

This is an encouragement in the wake of so many toxic charities. Larger brands whose entire success hinges on one-for-one models (TOMs, for example) are single-handedly demolishing the economies developing countries desperately try to establish. When people with little money are offered free amenities, local enterprises take serious hits.

The usual issue with a one-for-one promotion like this is not just that it’s a profitable business model, but that it’s a model based on dependency.

By providing a product or service for developing countries without any charge or exchange, companies reaffirm the need for someone else to provide it. They cannot produce it on their own as they are not given the tools, skills, or trust. Without the continuous donations or purchased products in America, the citizens of these countries will continue requiring the help of the large companies.

Industrial charity is primarily international, but this problem exists even within our borders. Homeless shelters that provide free meals to those in need can only support the homeless as long as they are homeless. Without a sustainable system in which these men, women, and children in need can grow, homeless shelters will always be necessary.

The goal of charities should be obsolescence someday--no longer necessary. It’s a lofty goal, but without this reminder, charities turn into an industry based on poverty itself.

Handout charities are not always evil. The Love, Your Melon company, gives a knitted hat to a cancer survivor for every purchased knitted hat. Recognition for the battles people face is a wonderful cause. Humane societies, college scholarship programs, emergency response teams, and other supportive organizations that operate on sustainability and empowerment are well worth the donations.

Think twice before you participate in charitable promotions and causes--make sure that your funds go toward fostering independence and self-empowerment. Researching the fine print of promotions like this Super Bowl ad are necessary as many are not as well planned, ethical, or honest about helping others in need.