067: The Unlikely Partnership of Profit and Philanthropy: Interview with Willie Morris [Podcast]

People think the rise of digital products spells doom for physical goods. In reality, the popularity of e-commerce reduces the tangible junk and makes room for artisans to surprise us.


With the pervasive use of mobile devices and growing digital platforms, people forget the romance of holding a work of art that isn’t measured in pixels. This presents a unique opportunity for luxury items and special editions to meet a new standard.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Willie Morris and I talk about building a business to do good in the world and the competitive advantage of capitalism over charity. Listen in as we discuss launching a faith-based subscription box service in partnership with a social media mogul and venture capitalist.

Listen to the podcast

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Profitable philathropy

The foundational challenge nonprofits face is fundraising. Despite a noble cause, depending on donations for daily operations is risky. A great deal of time and energy is focused on finding donors who may not be around for long. Especially when the next trendy cause hits social media.

I understand this predicament first hand as I had to raise money for my salary while working at a nonprofit. Now, as an entrepreneur, I’m financially able to do more good than ever before.

Some people think profits and philanthropy are at odds when the opposite is true. John D. Rockefeller and his colleagues believed it was their responsibility to give away the majority of their wealth. To be great at business and use it to accomplish the most good.

One of the things I find most interesting is how brands like TOMS and Faithbox are embracing this mindset and providing the opportunity for their customers to participate in a philanthropic mission.

Show highlights

In this episode, Willie and I discuss:

  • Willie’s journey from doctoral studies to corporate jobs and entrepreneurship
  • How a miscommunication over breakfast led to a meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk
  • Exploring the subscription box model
  • The unique origin of Faithbox
  • Facing the challenges of launching a faith-based physical product in an increasingly digital marketplace
  • When to accept venture capital from an investor
  • How corporate experience prepares entrepreneurs for success
  • Avoiding irrelevance and dependency on donations
  • The endurance of tangible goods as works of art
  • What the future of physical products looks like

Quotes and Takeaways

  • Build a company that values more than just profit.” —Willie Morris
  • Successful companies grow a loyal community around their brand.
  • You need to feel 100% comfortable with whoever invests in you.” —Willie Morris
  • There is no substitute for empathy.
  • Making a profit empowers you to do the most good.



You could win a free annual subscription to Faithbox! Leave a comment by August 14, 2015 for your chance to win.

Do you subscribe to a monthly box? If you launched a subscription box, what would be in it? Share in the comments.