Civic consumption is an explosive new framework for social change, by which communities can apply their untapped collective purchasing power to achieve the social and environmental impact they need.
Civic consumption provides newfound access for needed services to underserved populations. At the same time, by purchasing goods and services that they need together, communities can shift business practices toward local investment, sustainability, and better social benefits.
This work builds deeper connections within these communities, laying the groundwork for even broader local change. Civic consumption has already begun to incentivize changes in business practices in diverse sectors – from health insurance to renewable energy, from local food to book publishing – creating ripples throughout these industries far beyond the communities where the programs began. Groundswell applies this framework to clean energy services, but it has potential to transform various markets for deeper community benefit.
Civic Consumption helps communities to leverage their collective market power for good.
Civic consumption describes any social impact effort that:
Organizes latent community economic power…
- Bundles demand across communities to create economies of scale, reducing costs and creating access to needed services for citizens in need
- Creates a channel by which an engaged individual making an ordinary purchase can leverage that investment into community-wide impact
To tip markets toward social impact…
- Businesses compete to win pooled community demand for services; winners are chosen based not only on fair cost and quality services but also on social and environmental performance
And build more resilient, self-reliant communities
- Demonstrates to participants the social impact they make by taking part in collective purchasing
- Creates a lasting community of peers who can tap into their collective economic power again to achieve further impact
Groundswell strives to build the power of civic consumption through implementation in clean energy sectors, creating community and peer-to-peer learning among like-minded change-makers, and promoting understanding of the concept across the social sector.
Learn more about how we're applying this model through our Community Power Project.
Civic consumption needs a network:
Groundswell has been honing this model for the past four years in clean energy sectors, transforming community access to renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements, but it is not alone in applying this model. Other pioneering organizations are applying civic consumption to drive access and social benefit into a range of key sectors: Common Market has shifted access to healthy local food for communities in need, Freelancers Union has transformed access to quality health care for the self-employed, and First Book has used similar methods to get low-income schools access to books. Despite the similarities in mechanics between many organizations, there has been no shared definition of the model, and little communication or shared knowledge among practicing organizations.
The Civic Consumption Network will address this gap, providing a platform for leading practitioners to learn from each other while also leveraging their collective impact to make even broader change. The Civic Consumption Network will also engage the broader public in discussions about how this explosive new model can give communities the tools to change the businesses that give them needed goods and services.