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Oct 21, 2015

Buying from Social Enterprises Magnifies Your Philanthropy

The Columbus Dispatch recently featured two articles that highlight how social enterprise gives us new ways to think about how we can support our community’s nonprofits: the opening of the new wing of the Columbus Museum of Art and the opening of an exhibition by Sunapple Studios at the Cultural Arts Center (through November 14).

The museum’s new wing gives it the capacity to expand three businesses to provide valuable new earned revenues to support the museum’s mission. This is vitally important for cultural nonprofits, which remain vulnerably dependent on philanthropy to support their missions. We should congratulate the museum on using the opportunities of the new wing to enhance its financial sustainability.

The new Schokko Art Café, with management by Cameron Mitchell, provides a dining experience that is a substantial enhancement over its predecessor the Palette Café. The museum has moved its food service from a convenience to a potentially significant financial support of its mission. Its new event space recognizes that demand for events at the museum had exceeded its capacity. With the new space the museum will be able to host more events that will provide a profit margin that will enable the museum to expand its mission in the community. Finally, the new Museum Store brings twice the capacity and twice the potential for your purchases to support the mission of the museum.

These new social enterprises do not mean that your contributions are less necessary. Quite the contrary, they mean that the impact of your contributions can now go even further because they are now turbo-charged by the earnings from these three social enterprises.

The same edition of the Dispatch also highlighted “The Hero Within: Imagination and Identity”, an exhibition at the Cultural Arts Center of the art produced by Sunapple Studio, a social enterprise of ARC Industries, the nonprofit whose mission is “to empower individuals—whose sustainable skills and marketable talents are far greater than their disabilities—to connect with the greater community, enabling both to flourish and grow.” The motive for Sunapple Studios is to go beyond the old-fashioned sheltered workshop notion to tap the talents of its clients to create a business by which those clients can achieve some financial independence. Their works are for sale, priced at $20 to $50. On the first day of the exhibit, 18 pieces had already been purchased.

All social enterprises have a social impact. For some it is to channel profits to a nonprofit to support its mission. Others produce social impact directly from their business activities. You can see the over 88 social enterprises currently operating in Central Ohio at our online social enterprise directory. Click on a business in the directory and you will be directed to their website. The directory highlights those that have completed a more extensive profile that lists ways in which you can support their businesses and details the social impact they are achieving: 18,000 meals to food pantries, support of 30 survivors of human trafficking, and 300 daily meals through Meals on Wheels are just a few examples of the social impact your purchases can create.

You can buy books, jewelry, stationery, gift cards, and more from social enterprises. Purview the food/drinks section of the directory for a social enterprise to hire for your holiday events or staff parties. As the holidays approach, explore our community’s social enterprises to see how buying your gifts from them can truly be a gift that gives back.