Charitable startups: We don’t ask for money, we earn it!

 By Teri Legaki

 Over the past few years it has been observed that money put into advertising doesn’t always work very well. Many times, it turns out that people find some aspect of a message obnoxious or even offensive. Consumers are getting better at tuning marketing out,by browsing the Web or watching television. This means that businesses should be searching for more creative ways to boost their image. By focusing on charitable causes, a company can both boost its image and benefit the online and offline community.

As we mentioned earlier, a startup is traditionally a for-profit company but ‘a charity can operate much like one’ (Graham, 2012).Starting a non-profit company means taking high financial risk without high potential reward, as there isn’t a solid source of funding. A non-profit startup must raise funds from a relatively thin and fragmented market. With popular crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo entrepreneurs have found a new way of raising funds and make their dreams come true.  As opposed to traditional financial models, crowdfunding is really the model that has been utilized by charitable and non-profits startups, in order to provide a positive social impact.

Nowadays many philanthropic ventures have adopted the technological know-how and the mentality of startups, in order to develop a new ‘breed’ of lean non-profits. Being charitable from a startup to a big company, doesn’t have to be an act of sacrifice. ‘The companies who give back to the community and to make sure that people feel good about being their employees or customers, get a lot of benefits back in the process’ (Thompson, 2015). New companies entering the business worldwant to become a force for a positive change.

Many statistics show how charity companies influence customers. Specifically, in the Cone Cause-Evolution Study (2012), ‘83% of Americans said they wished brands would support causes, and almost half admitted to buying a product because it was associated with a cause’(Pass, 2015). By providing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the world of entrepreneurship, you can make a genuine difference.

There is a growing number of startups who take giving to a whole new level: they place charity at their core.They want to build on philanthropy and by forming their charitable reputation and then drive sales, as well as donations. This kind of social entrepreneurship is gaining more and more ground. Injoy Giving, a startup created in Dubai, is an online shopping platform based on the idea that ‘small acts of generosity can add up to something beautiful’. Whatever customers choose to buy, Injoy donates part of the proceeds to the World Food Program. Charity was also at the core of the for-profit company ‘TOMS’ which was founded in 2006 and started selling shoes in order to help children in Argentina. After an article published in the Los Angeles Times’, orders exceeded its supply. Since then, the company has extended to eyewear production, to help funding eye examinations and treatment.


Startup founders suggest that building philanthropy into their companies possibly attract consumers who are supporters of businesses they consider as ‘agents of positive social change’ (Thompson, 2015). Both authenticity and creativity are required, as consumers are looking for aconnection between the brand and its charitable giving.

In the world of startups, the paramount entrepreneurial objective is to create a product that can change the world. No matter how you are planning to make your impact, in order to do so, it is necessary a powerful network of community support.  Philanthropy in general is ‘not only an ideal, but also an expectation of a company’s brand promise to its customers ’(Dietrich, 2012) and benefits both the recipient and the giver. By incorporating social responsibility and charity into their visions, startups can use their imagination and creativity to solve social challenges.



Dietrich,C. (2012, March). Giving Back: How Every Startup Can Be Philanthropic. Forbes. Retrieved from

Graham, P.( 2012, September). Startup=Growth. Retrieved from


Koenig, R. (2015, December). Billions at Stake as IPO Charity Set-Asides Become Routine.The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Retrieved from


Pass, J. (2015, September). Charity Begins At Home: Startups With CSR At Their Core.Entrepreneur. Retrieved from

Robehmed, N. (2013, December). A New Nonprofit Model: Meet The Charitable Startups. Forbes. Retrieved from:


Thompson, M.(2015, January). 3 Ways to Promote Your Business With Charitable Marketing.[Web log post]. Retrieved from


One thought on “Charitable startups: We don’t ask for money, we earn it!

  1. By Ino Ioannidi,
    Hi Teri, I really enjoyed reading up on Charitable startups. It is quite interesting how this new type of “charity” startup or startups that contribute to charity is a phenomenon that is quite common among the Generation Ys (all those born between 1980-1994) or otherwise termed, Millenials. Despite accusations of them being a very self-absorbed and “lazy” generation, Millennials, actually seek to make a change and make an impact. What’s more they “Expect corporate social responsibility and will not work for, or purchase products from, organizations that are not socially responsible” as I read up in an article I found online ( ). It helps connect the dots and make the connection between what you are describing on your post and the societal changes that we’ve seen the past decade. Noreen O’ Leary in a very interesting article on Adweek ( ) they want to see how they contribute and make a change in the world and they do demand a lot of transparency in knowing where their money is going. They do so a lot via their mobiles, they will make retail purchases that involve a charitable donation and they will get others to join as well. As the same article argues, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, with their philanthropic profile and work, act as role models for millennials. For me, this is a great example of technology and society shaping the way of doing business or business itself.


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