Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does my social impact company become a seller?
A: Just contact us here on our website and we will be in touch to learn more about your company. We will require some paperwork from you in order to verify your social impact credentials and we will add you to our Good Market seller network.
Q: How does my company become a social impact buyer?
A: Just contact us here on our website and we will be in touch to learn more about your company and its supply chain needs. We will work with a range of departments within your company to ensure that your procurement team, CSR team, public relations team, shareholders and employees are involved and excited about the process. We will also help your company to identify the types of social and/or environmental impact it wants to make and provide you with regular metrics and outcome reporting so that you can share your achievements.
Q: Will it cost us more to buy from social impact companies?
A: This is a common fear amongst procurement managers but research shows that companies involved in social impact procurement find the goods and services they buy to be of equal or higher quality with little or no increase in price point. Social impact procurement is an emerging market in the US and as such there is not a lot of US based research, but Society Profits is part of a global network of similar companies that have been working in this space for many years. We can put you in touch with similar companies all over the globe so that you can ask real questions and get first hand answers, from companies that have done this already.
Q: How is Social Impact Business different from Small Local Business?
A: A bit like ripples on a pond, buying goods and services from a social impact business not only supports the local economy, it also directs all of its focus and profits towards solving social and environmental issues – 59% of social enterprises actively employ people disadvantaged from the labor market, 31% are based in the 20% most deprived areas in the country, 84% employ local people, 12% of social enterprise leaders are African American or from ethnic minorities, 40% are women. Social enterprises are also outstripping Small & Medium Enterprises (SME’s) for growth of sales (52% to 40%).
Q: What is Social Impact Procurement?
A: Simply put, social impact procurement means buying your companies regular goods and services directly or indirectly from social impact business sellers. Research from Procurious showed that in 2018 the main point of procurement in most corporations and publicly funded organizations was cost reduction (38%) and risk management (22%). However, these same companies are projecting that by 2030 the focus will shift towards driving supplier innovation (29%) and sustainability (25%) with risk management third (18%). Social Enterprises are both innovative and focused on risk reduction. 59% developed a new product or service in the last year (22% SME). By nature of their social and environmental mission they also reduce environmental impact, avoid modern slavery, tackle water scarcity and so much more.
Q: Why is Social Impact Procurement better for the community and environment than Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)?
A: The average annual spend for CSR at the top Fortune 500 companies is around $10m per year but procurement / purchasing of everyday goods and services runs into the $billions for these same companies. The corporate gift market is $125B alone. Social impact businesses offer a wide range of products such as office supplies, refreshments, food and beverages, waste management and janitorial services, security, event management and staffing agencies, web development, social media, marketing and PR services, corporate gifts, training and human resource services and so much more. These goods and services are held to the same standards as any of their other vendors. In addition to this they are giving back to local communities, the environment and the most at risk in our society. How’s that for scaling CSR!
Q: How do I know I am buying from genuine social impact businesses?
A: Society Profits is the only provider in the US to offer the third-party verified accreditation program, Social Enterprise Mark and soon the Social Enterprise Gold Mark. Social Enterprise Mark is the only globally available social enterprise accreditation. It is an independent guarantee that the companies business remains ethical, credible and commercial. The Social Enterprise Gold Mark is an excellence framework that encourages social enterprises to develop their capabilities and continuously improve. This means that buyers can rest assured that each of their suppliers has been externally, independently verified as a genuine social enterprise.
We work with our partner Good Market, to ensure that all sellers within our network have been third-party verified. Having accreditations such as the Social Enterprise Mark or being a Benefit Corporation lets your company rank more highly on the database.
Q: How is the Social Enterprise Mark different from B Corp?
A: Here at Society Profits, we believe that signing up for B Corp represents what every good employer should be doing; looking after its employees, thinking about its supply chain and the environment. That's just good business sense and should be recognized and praised. The Social Enterprise Mark is specific to social enterprise companies and goes so much further because it is directly relevant to the global standards of being a social enterprise business. The Social Enterprise Mark lays down a clearly defined definition for what a social enterprise business is and what it has committed to do - especially in relation to how it makes and spends money. For example, a social enterprise company can only use its profit in specific social and environmental impact ways, because it has an asset lock baked into its Articles of Organization. So even if the company made a million dollars in profit, it would reinvest more than half of that million dollars in fulfilling its social or environmental objectives, not giving bonuses to top sales people or executives. A social enterprise could be part non profit 501(c)3 and part LLC or L3C and it will clearly and transparently say how it will remunerate ALL of its employees, managers and investors. Non-profits cannot receive the B Corp badge. At Society Profits we see B Corp as a great badge of honor for a responsible business who might want to buy goods and services from a Social Enterprise Mark accredited seller.
Q: How much does it cost my social impact business to be supported by Society Profits?
A: Nothing at all! Society Profits is a social impact company too, and our mission in the US is to help other social impact businesses to grow, provide more jobs and help more communities and our planet. To become a social impact seller in our Good Market database costs you nothing. If you want to rank more highly in our database we recommend that you become third-party accredited with the Social Enterprise Mark. Good Market also recognizes other third-party certified standards such as WFTO Fair Trade, Green Seal Certified and many more. Good Market checked all of these standards to make sure that consumers can trust they are transparent and sellers don't have to spend unnecessary money on a range of different certifications.
Q: Can I be a non-profit and a social enterprise?
A: In the USA, being a social enterprise doesn't have a specific business entity type. Some other countries have types of company, like a Community Interest Company in the UK, that is Government Regulated to ensure it complies with global social enterprise standards such as asset lock and use of profits. Here in the US we rely on a set of principles and criteria for determining if your company is a social enterprise or not. The main criteria is about use of company profits. Simply put, we prefer the term Not-For-Private-Profit as a good explanation. Please feel free to Contact Us to learn more. We pride ourselves on our transparency.
Q: Is Society Profits a membership organization?
A: No. Plain and simple - we have no interest in being a membership organization. As a social enterprise intermediary, we exist solely to fill gaps and help the social enterprise sector to grow. Society Profits is absolutely a network builder, but we like to do that in collaboration with existing, amazing local membership organizations and networks. We see ourselves as the national network builder for social impact businesses in the US. We are here to help you grow your membership, expand your local impact and do more good in your neighborhoods. We are sustainable through our social impact procurement business support services and consulting services. We also charge an annual license fee for taking companies through the Social Enterprise Mark accreditation process. This helps us to cover our overheads.
Q: Have a different question? Ask away! Our aim is to be transparent and trustworthy so that you can rest assured we have done our homework and you can buy with confidence.