Frequently asked questions
What is Social Procurement?
Social procurement is about buying your everyday goods and services from social enterprises to create social and environmental benefit in your community.
It is about encouraging a shift towards procurement based on achieving multiple outcomes in addition to maximizing financial value. Social procurement helps governments, businesses and anchor institutions like hospitals and further education sites achieve "Best value for money" by considering elements such as community and environmental impact assessments, objectives and goals.
Why is social procurement important for local communities?
Communities today are facing complex social, economic and environmental challenges. Procurement can become a tool for building healthy communities. It is becoming an increasingly expected practice that RFPs include local community and environmental impact assessments and goals at all levels of government.
Local governments, corporates and anchor institutions spend billions of dollars annually on items like catering, pest control, recycling, janitorial services, event services, office supplies and more. There is an opportunity for local governments to look at the potential for their spending to support local employment, economic and community benefits. For smaller communities and those in economic transition, local government spending can be a significant lever in generating positive local and community impacts.
What are the goals of social procurement?
Nothing is a silver bullet. Social procurement includes social value as part of the procurement bidding and evaluation process. The information and questions centre around employment, training and apprenticeships, supply chain and/or community engagement. Bidders will be asked to describe their current practices, and what community benefits they can provide should they be the successful proponent. All procurement has social impact. Social procurement puts intention and measurement around that impact, and aims to generate positive returns.
Does social procurement mean buying local?
No, social procurement is not about ‘buying local’- this is not allowed under trade agreements. Instead social procurement looks for ways to structure procurement to make it more possible for local social enterprise businesses to bid and demonstrate the value they provide to the community. They still need to compete in a fair and transparent process. It is also a way to ask businesses from outside the community how they are going to provide local benefits to the communities where they do business.
Will social procurement cost more?
Simple answer - no.
In relation to government social procurement - local community benefits delivered through procurement are realized through economic development benefits, local employment, affordability, reduced criminality, access to services, etc. Social procurement focuses on a government’s obligation to get the best value for the dollars spent. In fact, by unbundling projects (breaking large contracts into smaller parts), there has even been significant cost savings that result from goods and services being delivered by local social enterprise businesses. However, depending on what the goals might be, a decision could be made to pay more for greater value.
For corporate and anchor institution procurement the cost has also remained the same or lowered and the organizations have also seen - an increase in employee satisfaction and retention, an increase in customer satisfaction, and a shift in CSR spend.
Is it possible to measure the results from social procurement initiatives?
Yes. It is vitally important that we record and report the impact that is made in our communities through social procurement. Buy Social USA works with sophisticated impact reporting software to deliver quarterly and annual impact reporting with a focus on both outputs and outcomes as well as financial and social impact made.
Which locations do you cover in the US?
We are working in both local pilot sites across cities in 5 states (California, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota) and also with some national and international networks like the Fair Trade Federation and others. If you want to find out more about becoming a network partner please contact us.
What kind of things can our company buy?
Social enterprises sell all kinds of goods and services - from office essentails like tea and coffee, office supplies and water, to services like recycling, waste management, laundry services, IT and Marketing support and much more.