Maryland Philanthropy Network President: Every Business Can Make a Difference in Baltimore’s Economic Future
Baltimore’s anchor institutions and other businesses recently made news with results from inclusive hiring and purchasing initiatives Hopkins BLocal and the Baltimore Integration Partnership. These large businesses and partnerships show the potential for inclusive economic efforts, but small business can have a significant impact too.
Each of us operating small budgets know how a new business contract matters to the health of our business. Every small business has one or more categories of discretionary spend that can be deployed to grow other small businesses, create long term partnerships, enable family supporting salaries, boost local employment and increase local spending.
At the Maryland Philanthropy Network, we have become increasingly intentional about our discretionary spending. When we shop for professional services such as accounting, human resources, auditing and even catering, we ensure we have cultivated candidates beyond our known network. We augment the practice of formal requests for proposals with informal conversations that let us learn more about how to work with a new vendor.
We keep an updated list of vendors and consultant firms owned and operated by women, under-represented groups and people of color or that are social enterprises in the Baltimore region. And we ask our existing vendors and contractors about policies and processes they use to foster equity, inclusion and further social purposes. We continue to hone these and other practices, but can boast that we now spend approximately 70 percent of our annual discretionary budget locally and inclusively where it can have the greatest impact on our community and our city. And, our increased diversity of vendors has also not only increased our access to high quality services, it has expanded our own business by connecting us to new networks, new opportunities and to strong employee candidates when we need to hire.
Whether for profit or nonprofit, there are opportunities to spend locally and inclusively to benefit your business and community. We continue to learn and share practices and invite interested businesses to contact us to learn more.
Celeste Amato, President, Maryland Philanthropy Network Baltimore Area Grantmakers
Source: Baltimore Business Journal