Who does your money support?

This could be a righteous story about how great I am at spending money the ‘right’ way.  About how wonderful we are at saving the planet or the world or how awesomely we walk our talk.

Actually it’s not going to be told like that.

This is a story of an awakening.

You see, I’ve always liked the idea of buying locally, socially, environmentally but in reality, as a mum of three running an ever growing company there’s always a lot to do.

And something that’s un-mandated – e.g. a social procurement policy is quite likely to slip through the cracks.

And besides, my subconscience has told me, social products are too difficult to get hold of.  There isn’t enough stock, or they aren’t available, or they are expensive etc etc.

Many years ago I tried to create a conference bag in my community with goods sourced from what I now know to be called ‘social enterprise’ and while there were a few token items within, the market was largely sparse.

However, I decided recently to give it another go.  It started slowly buying Christmas and Birthday gifts from local artists or social enterprise that I stumbled across, creating work opportunities, donating my own time.

But then, all of a sudden with the right amount of focus and creativity AND an ever growing marketplace it suddenly became easy.  And just as soon as it became easy it became an obsession.

Today I’m not going to even consider holding back on the big noting.  Why?  Because I’ve just done a tally of our social procurement on our upcoming leadership retreat and I am very excited that we are able to walk the talk.

Here’s a glimpse of our investment thus far – keeping in mind that some items are a surprise for the audience so I can’t tell you just yet but stay tuned for a tally and pics after the event March 5-6…

Stationery provider:  Inspirationery, a social enterprise based in Victoria (Australia) which donates 50% of profits to empowering women and girls through education and leadership programs (their products are also Australian made and environmentally conscious)

Tour experience provider:  Unkya Local Aboriginal Land Council.  We’ve been working with Unkya over the past two years and know just how awesome their tour is.  Our tour booking creates employment for two people and also furthers the development of the enterprise.

Dinner:  Our dinner will be prepared by acclaimed Indigenous chef and host of ABC TV program, Wild Kitchen Clayton Donovan.  Clayton will use locally sourced food to prepare a meal that will be remembered.

Dinner venue:  Dinner will be hosted in a community hall.  Rental revenues are incredibly important for small halls that run on the smell of an oily rag.  This is no ordinary hall, with sweeping views through the stunning rural community it’s amazing a tourist facility hasn’t been built here already.

Local employment – Retreats do not happen through the efforts of one person alone and this retreat will come to life through the work of our fabulous staff and contractors (by the way, that currently equates to work opportunities for 5 people).

Wine:  Oh yes, there’s even social procurement involved in our wine purchasing.  We buy from Naked Wines, a company that provides opportunities for small producers who would otherwise have a hard time getting to market.

Design:  Our design is magically created by small business and wonder woman Betty.

Carbon neutral flights:  Our team members fly carbon neutral

Accommodation and conference venue:  We resisted the very strong pull to run our three day event in a larger centre and kept it in a regional community.  Because supporting regional communities, small business and community enterprise are things we really care about.

That tally is over $15,000 spent locally and where possible within our social procurement guidelines.

I’m sure there’s room for even more improvement yet but the point is – purchasing wisely doesn’t take a LOT of effort, nor does it need to cost a lot more – and even if it does seeing the end result back in community is a feeling that my husband and I want our family company to magnify for years into the future.

So how can your organisation or household consider social procurement?  Here’s what I reckon:

1. Put it on your agenda, in your consciousness.  You’ll be amazed what you start to notice both in your spending habits and also in the goods and services you become aware of.

2. Work out what you care about and where you want to make a difference

3. Set some goals and targets for your spending (e.g. 70% social purchasing, 20% of our goods / services will be sourced from small business, 75% products sourced from Indigenous suppliers, 45% sourced from local business etc.)

4. Measure your spend


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