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For-Profit Philanthrophy: Why Blake Mycoskie Doesn't Run TOMS As A Charity
Social Change | February 12, 2013

For-Profit Philanthrophy: Why Blake Mycoskie Doesn't Run TOMS As A Charity

"There's a place for profits and there's a place for non-profits," social change speaker Blake Mycoskie argued in a recent podcast. "I don't think that the world's problems can be addressed in an either-or-situation." Both models of giving are needed to combat the social problems in the world. However, in the case of TOMS, Mycoskie's own social business, a for-profit model was more viable because he needed to provide aid over a sustained period of time. When you provide long-term aid using a non-profit model you have to rely on donations to keep the process going. Mycoskie says this can lead to "donor fatigue." This means that the organization's funding may one day be in jeopardy if less people decide to donate to the cause. For-profit businesses, however, can sustain long-term aid so long as the business-owner operates the company profitably.

While he's using a traditional business model to operate his company, he is applying that model to a non-traditional venture. The social business is a relatively new concept and Mycoskie is one of the growing number of people whose company makes a profit while also giving back. TOMS operates on the idea that one person buying one of their products today means that a child in need will get the same product tomorrow. As he says in the podcast, that core idea was what inspired the company name. While he wanted to call the company "Tomorrows", it was too long to fit on the tags of the shoes he manufactured. Instead, he shortened it to TOMS—and with that small change, the legacy of one-for-one giving was born.

A highly requested keynote speaker, Mycoskie shares his vision of how we can all contribute to a better tomorrow for everyone in the world. He uses his work at TOMS as a model on how to incorporate giving into a new or existing business strategy. His work has been recognized internationally and he has earned many awards including the Secretary of State’s 2009 Award of Corporate Excellence. He also recently released the book Start Something That Matters to bring his inspirational story to a new audience. Whether you are creating a business that is focused solely on giving back, or looking to incorporate a philanthropic element to your current strategy—Mycoskie can help you get there. He shows you how powerful social good can be as a business value, and how it's possible to earn a profit while making a positive impact on the world around you.
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