Now more than ever we need to support local businesses

Dan Dibbelt
Smoky River Regional Economic Development

I received an email the other day from an area business with some concerns about local fundraisers.

This business has long been a great community supporter. They are always ready with a donation of money, a donation of services, a donation of items for a silent auction or a discount on in-store products. While this business is always there to support local initiative’s, they do have a concern and it is a valid one.

Not- for profits, whether it be a local sport club, a community fundraiser for new infrastructure or a fundraiser for a school initiative, are always looking at new and innovative ways to raise funds.

It may be the traditional chocolate almonds, it might be themed based around an event like Christmas or Easter or it may be auction based, requesting products from merchants to sell off and raise funds through the sale.

I have always supported the need to shop local, not just residents of our communities but also businesses. It is a bit hypocritical for a business to complain about people not shopping local if the very same business doesn’t do its best to shop local for whatever it can.

I appreciate most businesses cannot get all their products locally, but realistically they can shop local for their cleaning supplies, for their toilet paper, their coffee and many other products found on the businesses premises.

Well, the same holds true for people doing fundraisers. Now more than ever we need to support local businesses. I can’t imagine running a store and being asked to support a local fundraiser that is selling a product that I carry in my own shop.

Imagine you are one of the local hair saloons and a local group is selling tickets for a hair treatment in Grande Prairie.

Imagine you are a local appliance dealer and someone is raffling off appliances purchase from a business in peace River. Imagine you have any business in the region and someone is raffling off a gift card to Costco for a thousand dollars and they ask you to donate funds to help cover the cost of the card.

I ask you to imagine, because I can’t. As a local business owner, I would want to support local fund raisers and initiatives, but I would want the people doing the fundraising to support me as well.

With the slowdown in the economy, now is truly the time for those doing fundraisers to come up with innovate fundraising opportunities that not only help a project, but help local businesses as well.

We have an excellent selection of shops in the Smoky region that can help fundraisers get the products they need at a lower price for a good cause.

We have a couple of Chambers of Commerce that help pull together regional shopping vouchers as a raffle prize. We have three grocery stores in our region that could be utilized in a food shopping voucher.

As of late, gift cards to some of the big brand name stores have become popular options as gifts and as prizes in raffles or as fundraisers.
Surely we must see the irony in asking a local business to contribute money to support the purchase of gift cards to shops in municipalities out of our region to be raffled off.

Not only are we asking a local business to give money, we are asking them to encourage out-of-town shopping.

There is no doubt that not-for profits are having tough time these days with reduced provincial funds. We know the carbon tax will make things even tougher, for not-for-profits and businesses alike.

Now is the time we need to work together to support our not-for-profits and ensuring we support local businesses in doing so.

If you are on a not-for-profit, think carefully if your fundraiser is supporting local businesses. If it is not, then perhaps you need to rethink your fundraiser.

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