How to Build a Business Model on Altruism

glassybaby sells handblown votives and give a donation with every purchase.

By Lee Rhodes

When I was in the hospital several years ago battling cancer, I was given a beautiful candle that soothed me, imparting hopefulness and peace of mind. The mission of my company was birthed out of that experience, and I wanted to reflect that hope and healing back to my community — and the world — by giving 10 percent of my company’s revenue back to nonprofit organizations.

Many businesses have started taking similar approaches, and philanthropy is expected to keep growing in the coming years. Small businesses and major corporations alike are making altruism a goal, going above and beyond to support charities across the globe.

Giving back can be a lot harder than it looks, though. I had people constantly telling me that our business model wouldn’t be successful, but this is a time when stubbornness pays off. Companies that give back aren’t just businesses looking to make a buck; they’re forming emotional connections. And those connections can elevate a business’s long-term sustainability.

How does a giving model benefit your business?

While opting for a giving-focused business model of course gives you the opportunity to help others, it can also help your company. There are a few ways that philanthropy can benefit your business.

It’ll be a breath of fresh air for your marketing department (and budget), both of which are crucial to staying competitive. While altruism is good for its own sake, it can also boost your company’s reach and prestige by building word-of-mouth rapport with nonprofits in your community without investing in marketing materials.

Plus, it builds relationships with partners and customers. These types of connections are cumulative, which means they take time to build. For example, you could go to a hospital and say, “We’re going to give you $2.5 million to build a brand new unit for the children to stay in while their moms are getting…

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