Why we are a for-profit, and not a non-profit

influence! : a social enterprise

The idea for influence! came after reading an article on the most requested items in homeless shelters. To our surprise, socks were at the top of the list. How can aspire to end homelessness if we can’t even get them socks ? 9 months later, influence! was born. The concept: for each pair sold, a second pair is donated to a person in need by our charity partners.

For-profits and non-profits: Two approaches, the same goal

While a non profit is defined by the coming together of people around a common project with no interests in profits, a social enterprise is centered around the generation of profits used to finance its social or environmental mission.

As opposed to non-profits which are mostly based on volunteering, donations or subsidies, a social enterprise thrives on its profits which are reinjected to create a healthy company, which can support its altruistic mission in a sustainable fashion.

Although both non-profits and social enterprises are structurally different, they both have the same goal: to defend a common mission.

Why is influence! a social enterprise rather than a non-profit ?

One of the great challenges of non-profits is to be able to sustain donations for long periods of time. The model of a social enterprise is more sustainable because of the profits it generate, meaning it does not depend on donations. Because we sell socks, we can donate them, and that impact grows as the company grows. It creates a self-fulfilling system that allows to scale our social impact.

Non-profits and for-profits: the winning combo

While we have adopted this one for one model with the goal of creating a sustainable flow of donations, this would not have been possible without our non-profit partners. We do what we do best: making and donating socks; and this helps them do what they do: helping the homeless.

What our non-profit partners have to say

Cathy, a member of the Brussels-based non-profit Pierre d’Angle: “For those exposed to the challenges of the homeless community on a daily basis, especially their recurring need for socks, having a reliable source of donations is really great. We know that each month, socks are going to be delivered, and that when we run out, more will be on their way. This allows us to focus on our main mission: helping people by giving them access to showers, beds, washing machines and counseling.”

So, yes, by definition influence! is a for-profit, because we exist to make a profit. But the difference with “ordinary” for-profits lies in the mission we set ourselves: to help the homeless community by bringing a sustainable source of donations.