Social Entrepreneurship and Digital Business: Artlifting

Can companies save the world and make money? The growing market space for Benefit Corporations and Social Impact Investors seem to think so. In the last several years there have been an increasing number of for profit entities that operate with a duel mission for social impact and profit. These organizations are challenging the traditions of for-profit and non-profit entities, using the growing digital and social world to do so.


An example of a company flourishing in this space is Artlifting. Artlifting is a for-profit LLC that sells art for homeless and disabled artists. They abide by the traditional 55%, 45% commission split used by most galleries. They currently service 72 artists from 11 states and have three channels for sales. These three channels include ecommerce sales from there website, corporate sales, and licensing. They operate with a duel mission. One half of that mission is to be a scalable and sustainable profitable company. The other half of that mission is to empower homeless and disabled individuals by helping to sell their art.


Artlifting is an Example of a Benefit Corporation

Currently ecommerce directed from their website remains largely their driving source of revenue, with corporate sales increasing rapidly. This company’s business plan is dependent on an ecommerce platform made possible by the digital world.Artlifting markets their artist’s wimagesork around the world introducing them to significantly more demand through their leveraging of digital business. Their ecommerce revenue depends on website traffic. If they want to grow their sales, they need to increase their web traffic. One way that they could increase this is through social media.




Facts About Artlifting


Social Media Campaign

Social media plays a large roll in marketing for ecommerce-based businesses. Having a strong social media presence is essential for any company in the 21st century and demanded by companies primarily fueled by ecommerce. In terms of social media this company is utilizing the major platforms but could be pushing further. They have a strong presence on Instagram. Their Instagram account is geared towards sharing the artwork and stories of their artists to consumers. It is compelling and at times reminiscent of the account “Human’s of New York.” They also have a Pinterest account but this could be drastically improved. Many consumers turn to Pinterest in order to find ideas relating to art and home décor. This is an area of their social media portfolio that could be expanded upon. Similarly Tumblr is a platform that could attract a cliental that would likely be customers of theirs. Tumblr and Pinterest are both popular with younger women who would likely be attracted to the items such as phone cases, tote bags, or greeting cards. Finally up and coming social media photo sharing apps like VSCO could be areas that Artlifting should investigate going forward. This would be a logical extension of their social media campaign because images are primarily how communicate their product and mission. Artlifting has a compelling mission and an impressive array of products, but could improve their advertising in a digital sense particularly by leveraging social media.

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Example of Instagram Post

When speaking with CEO and Co-Founder Spencer Powers, I asked about the company’s usage of social media. He confirmed that they focus on Instagram and Facebook primarily. Because of their mission focus, they use their Facebook page differently than a non-socially minded business would. They particularly use Facebook to network internally with their artists, continuing to forward their mission. They use this technology to help support their artists, advise them, and create a much-needed stable community for them. This is interesting because although it is not promoting Artlifting on a customer facing level, it is ultimately aiding their business. Building this online community/network helps them to retain their artists, who act as their employees. By advising and supporting their employees they maintain consistency within their product, the art. They also advance their mission by helping to improve the quality of life for these individuals.

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Example of Artist Profile


Expanding Partnerships


Partnering with other ecommerce sites could be an additional business move by Artlifting. The digital world thrives off of networks, why should businesses not capitalize on this? Artlifting is in a unique position to be able to leverage making these partnerships. They can utilize their mission based business model to inspire companies to consider a mutually beneficial partnership. Connecting with ecommerce sites that sell art or related products such as Etsy, eBay or even more recently Pinterest could be mutually beneficial. Artlifting could potentially get increased traffic to their site. The more Etsy promotes Artlifting the more customers will click through to Artlifting’s site and potentially make a purchase. A company like Etsy could potentially benefit from a public relations standpoint by partnering with a socially minded venture. They could fiscally benefit by charging Artlifting for clicks similar to a Google Adsense program, or by taking a percentage of items sold as a result of the partnership.

In Conclusion

Benefit Corporations need to utilize the digital world and social media effectively in order to be successful. It is essential to leverage social media and technology to advance their cause, as well as solidify their fiscal sustainability. Particularly in the case of Artlifting, they are dependent on digital business to generate revenue. There are several ways Artlifting could improve their business by continuing to be innovative in a digital sense. By expanding their social media campaign and engaging other businesses in partnerships, they can expand web traffic and increase revenues. Artlifting is leveraging digital business to profit, and perhaps even save the world.


  1. Really nice post. Curious how you ended up connecting with this company? Love that you got to speak with the CEO! Strong opening to the blog this semester!

  2. Artlifting is the coolest company!! Really awesome that you were able to get the CEO’s perspective. I’m curious about how you see a company like Artlifting using a VSCO account? I agree that it’s an awesome platform for artists, but do you have any ideas around how businesses could benefit from having a presence on the platform?

  3. emmaharney21 · ·

    @geraldckane I learned about this company in Professor Foote’s Social Entrepreneurship class and was inspired to reach out to them. I simply contacted the company asking if someone would be willing to talk to me and one of the co-founders was kind enough to respond to me. @bishopkh1 I think that part of what Artlifting needs is exposure for their artists to expand public knowledge of the company. VSCO is popular with younger individuals who may be future customers for them. Because their product is so visual based a photo sharing platform like VSCO could increase their visibility. Thanks for the comments!

  4. I’d never heard of Artlifting before but it sounds like a very cool concept! Having a strong presence on Instagram is a great business idea, since their business is based around such a visual product. I agree that many people turn to Pinterest to find home decor related products. In addition, Pinterest now also has their “Buy It” button, that allows companies to sell products straight off of their Pinterest page. That could be something that Artlifting could explore. I think people are less likely to want to buy products off of Instagram (since many people go on there mostly just to look at pictures posted by their friends and celebs), but it’s more common to go onto Pinterest to see products for sale.

  5. I LOVE that you went and got in contact with the employees at ArtLifting! I’ll have to follow in suit a little bit further down the road. I had never heard of the company before, but I love what they are doing, and I especially loved that you decided to focus on businesses that are for-profit and socially motivated. I think your idea about them really using Pinterest to their benefit is brilliant for exactly the reasons you suggested it. For the future, if you continue to talk about these types of companies, maybe set two up against each other and compare them? All in all, this was a great read with awesome information!

  6. Very cool company. This is a great example of using digital channels to open up markets that did not exist before, while also giving exposure to artists that may not have it otherwise. Nice socially responsible company that I hope I also making enough along the way to continue their work.

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