If you find yourself scratching your head for last-minute gift ideas this holiday season, consider a gift with a social impact.
British Columbians are digging deep for creative ways to celebrate this time of year and B.C. has plenty of businesses offering great products and services while helping the communities in which they live. A gift with a social impact gives three times:
- It’s a present for the person on your gift list;
- it supports social needs in your community; and
- it’s good for the local economy.
Social enterprises are businesses or organizations that channel revenues back into communities to improve social and environmental outcomes. Some are for-profit, some are non-profit, but they all use business strategies to create the biggest impact possible.
Consider, for example, Costumes for a Cause in Prince George. In exchange for a donation, you can send a life-sized children’s character to entertain your guests at your next private or corporate event. This small, volunteer-run, non-profit organization redirects 100% of its profits to comforting sick children in hospital with gifts and special appearances, expanding its costume collection and attending community events.
For the beer aficionado on your list, consider a brew from Persephone Brewing Company. Co-owned by over 130 individuals and organizations, this field-to-bottle “beer farm” uses hops grown on site or locally sourced in a number of its beers, leases unused land to local farmers and hires community members with developmental disabilities through the Sunshine Coast Association for Community Living. Pop by on your way from the Langdale ferry or visit your local government liquor store.
If you are in Powell River this season, drop into Tla’amin Convenience Store. Much more than a gas station, it has become a local hub of the community. The store focuses on nurturing cultural roots and heritage by stocking art and jewellery made by First Nations people across Canada, hosting community workshops like traditional basket weaving, managing a free community book box library, feeding hungry residents and travellers at their SLI City Grill and training youth in culinary skills and retail management.
You can order a gift basket from Vancouver-based Saul Good Gift Company, which packs its baskets with 100% locally and handmade B.C. products. This international social award-winning company has many ties to social enterprises: Its gift baskets are assembled by Starworks, a social enterprise that employs people with developmental disabilities; its chocolate comes from East Van Roasters, a local operation that trains and employs female residents of the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver; and it buys products from Tradeworks, a non-profit social enterprise that provides life skills and carpentry training to Downtown Eastside residents with multiple barriers to employment. Employees make everything from custom furniture to Christmas ornaments using reclaimed, B.C. pine beetle and other sustainably sourced wood.
Many more businesses just like these throughout the province are working to be part of a bigger solution to some of B.C.’s most complex social challenges. Ask around in your community and consider a triple-giving gift this year.
For more great ideas, visit: www.socialenterprisecanada.ca/en/communities/bc/nav/BuyItFwd.html
Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation –
“People are eager to find new ways of gift giving and supporting their communities. Choosing a gift from a local business that also provides a social impact is a great option for British Columbians who want to celebrate the holidays, help change lives and invest in their local economy at the same time.”
Miel Creasey, co-owner, Tla'amin Convenience Store –
"At the Tla'amin Convenience Store, we are happy to be able to offer the surrounding communities a place where everyone feels welcome, and to provide somewhat of a ‘community hub’ - something the Tla'amin and north-of-town communities so desperately needed. Our little shop is proud to offer a wide variety of goods and services and a welcoming feeling to all who walk through our doors."
- Part of the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation’s mandate is to work with partners in the business and community sectors to support social innovation and enterprise in B.C.
- For example, B.C. was the first jurisdiction in Canada to create the Community Contribution Company — a corporate entity recognized by people who want to use their purchasing dollars to support a positive social impact, and by investors who are interested in both a social and financial return.
- In 2014, the government provided $184,000 to fund a University of British Columbia study on B.C.’s social venture sector. The study, released in 2015, found the sector has grown by 36% over the last five years with businesses seeing the highest rate of growth at 89%. The sector generates an estimated $533 million annually and employs more than 12,700 people.
- A social enterprise can be as simple as a charitable organization having a thrift store to support its social programs or a catering business that provides on-the-job training and work experience to its employees, who may have disabilities or other barriers to employment.
- As an active member of the BC Partners for Social Impact, government works with social innovation leaders in the public, private and non-profit sectors to promote and support social innovation and enterprise throughout the province.
- In March 2015, the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation implemented Social Impact Purchasing guidelines, which require staff to consider social value as well as financial value when they are making procurement decisions.
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation: www.sdsi.gov.bc.ca/social-innovation/index.htm
Explore www.hubcapbc.ca – B.C.’s online social innovation tool to find resources, learn about new and ongoing social innovation projects, and connect with B.C.’s innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, funders and public-policy makers.
For more information on the social enterprises referenced in this release, visit:
- Costumes for a Cause: www.costumesforacause.com
- Persephone Brewing Company: www.persephonebrewing.com
- Tla’amin Convenience Store: www.tlaaminstore.com
- Saul Good Gift Company: www.itsaulgood.com
- Starworks Packaging and Assembly: www.starworks.ca
- East Van Roasters: www.eastvanroasters.com
- Tradeworks: www.tradeworks.bc.ca