One of the easiest ways for you to contribute to improved community, social, and environmental outcomes is to change the way you spend your money. Social purchasing is a growing trend among individuals, organizations, and businesses to choose to purchase from suppliers who are directly working to address issues such as homelessness, poverty, access to local food, creating employment opportunities for people with barriers, etc. It doesn’t necessarily mean paying more, but it can; it usually means buying differently.
Catering, clothing, transportation, coffee, and restaurants among many others are products or services being offered with an added social value. Here are a few examples of the diversity of the services and products you could choose to purchase from social enterprises:
- Gift baskets, groceries, or corporate catering from your local grocery co-op like One Big Table in Kelowna
- Pottery from Just Pottery in Vancouver
- Insulation or renovations with Build in Winnipeg or Impact Construction in Halifax
- Wedding or corporate event venue rentals from Silver Lake Camp in Peachland
- Yard work, snow shoveling, leaf raking from organizations like Future Roots in Halifax or Venture Training in Vernon
- Artisan coffee or chocolate from East Van Roasters in Vancouver
- Junk removal from Junk 4 Good in Edmonton
- Used bicycles, bike parts, and service from Pathways in Kelowna
- Community development consulting from Urban Matters all across Canada
The biggest challenge reported by organizations in the social sector is lack of a sustainable revenue model. Social enterprises use entrepreneurial revenue models to help generate their own money which is directed towards solving community, social, or environmental objectives. These organizations can be run as a non-profit, for profit, charity, co-op, or hybrid like a Community Contribution Company, but the majority of its profits must be directed at achieving social objectives.
Social purchasing doesn’t mean that competitive pricing and quality products and services should be ignored – it simply means there is another factor for consumers to consider when making purchases. Changing your individual, family, business, or organizational purchasing habits can significantly contribute to improved capacity to create positive community, social, and environmental outcomes. Listen to Don’s story about participating in training and employment programs from Mission Possible in Vancouver. It’s a great example of the life changing difference you can make from using and supporting social purchasing. We can choose to build our communities and our economy differently.