by Janine Vanderburg
These days I want James Carville to come back and shout his famous phrase from every virtual street corner: It’s the economy, stupid! Because it is. The continued lackluster economy has hurt small businesses and those they employ, nonprofits and the constituents they serve. And while political leaders seem paralyzed, we need not be. As we head into this holiday season, here are a few things we as individuals can do to help the situation:
1. Shop our local small businesses, and not just on Small Business Saturday. Year round, small businesses create two out of three jobs, and that’s good for both Main Street and Nonprofit Street. Let’s ignore the big box retailers’ midnight sales, and spend the weekend with family and friends, having coffee at the local coffee shop, and spending our holiday budgets in local stores.
Each contains a collection of items beautifully curated by its owners, and by shopping there I’m:
- Contributing to making my community stronger
- Selecting gifts that people are going to love and that they’re not going to find somewhere else
- Usually finding a little something for myself that I just can’t resist!
2. Shop social enterprise. When you shop social enterprises, you are helping to create jobs for people who most won’t employ (the homeless, ex-offenders, etc.) Here are links to some of our favorite social enterprise online shopping sites. I personally have purchased products from each, so can vouch for any Women’s Bean Project gifts, Beeline lotions, Dreambean soy candles (the lemon tea scent is amazing) and Global Bags. So on or before Cyber Monday go to one of these sites, knowing that your purchase will not only delight whoever is lucky enough to receive it, but also will create jobs for people who might otherwise be unemployed.
3. Invest in your nonprofit staff and board members. Chances are, they’re doing a lot more with less. Help them do it by investing in their professional development. JVA has lots of training coming up in 2012, and our training subscription series allows you and your staff and/or board members to attend almost unlimited trainings—A great holiday gift for your board members to consider giving to your nonprofit.
A final thought: We might not be able to influence the Congressional supercommittee but we can make conscious decisions about where we invest our money. Yes, invest. We’re not just shopping anymore, we’re taking the local economy into our own hands and giving it a much needed boost. So if you plan to hit the local hot spots or social enterprise sites this season, let us know. We would love for you to share your favorites with us as well and we’ll make sure to include on our list.