Intentionally or not, every decision to purchase causes not one, but multiple transactions, like ripples in a pond. "Purposeful purchasing" occurs when we make those decisions to achieve specific outcomes in a community's social, human, cultural, structural, economic, or environmental capital. In the ways they build or neglect community capital, purchasing decisions are primary contributors to the local quality of life and level of sustainability.
Many retail consumers already purchase with a purpose. It is time the corporate, public, and nonprofit sectors did the same. Price and quality will never be eliminated from purchasing and procurement. But it is now possible to blend these considerations with social, environmental and economic criteria and make them an integral part of a business' operations.
Buyers can unbundle large contracts to enable small and medium-sized businesses to bid; they can pursue and expand inclusive procurement policies; they can award bidding credits to firms that sub-contract to social enterprise; and they can patronize brokers of targeted contracting, like social purchasing portals.