How to Leverage People’s Purchase Power to Move Your Mission Forward

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As a nonprofit, you already know the incredible passion your volunteers have for your mission. They volunteer, share your social media posts,  donate to your campaigns, and advocate for your shared cause.

But are you covering all the ways they could help?

One of the most powerful and often untapped resources that a nonprofit has is the collective purchase power of its volunteers. Purchase power represents an individual's ability to make decisions around spending or consumption of goods or services. Each of your volunteers has the ability to make decisions around how they consume or purchase goods and services. As we share in the toolkit:

 "These purchasing decisions may reflect their values or advance a social cause or issue. Buyers may deliberately purchase or avoid purchasing a product or service based on a company's policies, social causes, size and scale, environmental footprint, and more."

In the same way your volunteers choose to share their talents with your organization; they may also choose where their purchase power goes.

When discussing purchase power, it's essential to recognize that for many people, there is limited choice in where or how to shop, for a variety of reasons, from lack of access to financial limitations, there is still great value in being more informed and being able to share that knowledge with their own networks. Yet even when choices are limited, there is still decision-making power in these choices. And in those instances, when the only action step we can take is to be more informed and share that information with others, this is still meaningful and has value.

Here are three ways you can help activate the purchasing power of your volunteers:

1) Share Points of Light's “Civic Life Today” Issue on Purchase Power

Over the next year, Points of Light will bring our Civic Circle to life with “Civic Life Today”, a digital magazine with a series of nine issues, each highlighting an area of the Civic Circle and taking a deep dive into how people can activate this in their own life. You can access a copy of our inaugural issue by clicking here (scroll to bottom). We encourage you to share the link with your staff, volunteers, and network.

2) Curate a List of Businesses to Support

Maintain a list of businesses or brands that support causes that are aligned with your mission and share it on your website.  A great example is The Good Shopping Guide, which generates and compares ethical rankings of the world's leading brands across various issue areas.

3) Encourage Volunteers to Shop Local

Highlight businesses in the community you serve to help increase awareness among your volunteers and their networks. Consider engaging local businesses to volunteer with your organization and cross-promote both of your organizations through social media.

What other ways can you leverage purchase power to move your mission forward? Comment below.

Sarajane Foltz

Director, Capacity Building, Points of Light

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