The Social Purpose Business

The Emerging Trend

Social Purpose Business is an emerging business development and an advanced level of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Social purpose businesses embed social good into the very core of their business operations. It becomes part of their brand and an authentic way to survive and thrive in a changing society. This next iteration of CSR opens up the opportunity to lead with social purpose and work together to advance to the next level of business and societal impact.

Many organizations know that investing in their community to help solve social issues is good for business. Thriving, healthy people and communities are inextricably linked with a business’ financial health. When businesses lead with Social Purpose – engaging with employees, clients, customers, peers, suppliers, non-profits, social services, government policymakers, and more – in pursuing real, positive social change, we all benefit.

UWLM researched the various definitions of the Social Purpose Business and compiled them into one definition, here: Social Purpose Business Definition (pdf)

Learn more about the Social Purpose Institute at United Way, and how it’s helping businesses create social good and drive business results.  Click here.

United Way’s Role

UWLM is embarking on a new way of engaging with the business community to bring about greater social change. Our corporate partners have been requesting involvement in, and a deeper understanding of, our work and the social issues faced in the Lower Mainland and want to become more engaged in the solutions. UWLM, known for its local community development and broad, cross-sectoral networks, is poised to serve as the source for community intelligence, training and involvement in embedding social purpose within businesses.

When social purpose becomes a core part of a business and its brand, it has the potential to bring more than just philanthropic dollars to bear on social issues; instead, all the business does fosters social change. Social change is the mission of United Way. We want to foster and grow leadership in social purpose because together we can make amazing things happen.

Download United Way’s
Social Purpose Business Case


The research on the social purpose business case shows there are six main business benefits for pursuing a social purpose business model.

How We Can Help

  • Understand the social issues that affect your community and your business, to discover and be a part of new solutions.
  • Identify the best match between your company’s brand, assets and resources and a social purpose that would resonate best for you in a competitive landscape.
  • Connect what your company has to offer with issues and agencies in the community.

Learn more about the Social Purpose Institute at United Way, click here.

For more information, email:

UWLM Fostering Social Purpose

United Way of the Lower Mainland is committed to being a leader in fostering Social Purpose Business (SPB). In order to support this work, we know we need partners, structures and policies creating an enabling environment for SPB to flourish in. To this end, United Way submitted recommendations (with United Way Centraide Canada) on the concept of the “Social Purpose Business”  to the Federal Government’s Social Innovation and Social Finance Strategy consultation. Please link here to read the UW SI SF Strategy Consultation Submission.

Please note: the full submission was sent from United Way Centraide Canada, and thus references a number of additional topics. Section 2, page 9 onwards is most relevant to the work of the United Way of the Lower Mainland. Note also the letters of support on the Social Purpose Business Recommendations from the City of Vancouver and Canadian Business for Social Responsibility in the appendix.

Social Purpose Resources

Here are some interesting articles about social purpose and social leadership.

Social Purpose Institute at United Way

The purpose of change (

How Social Purpose Makes Good Business Sense (BC Business Magazine)

Corporate Social Responsibility Reimagined (BC Business Magazine)

The Ecosystem of Shared Value (Harvard Business Review)

Purpose or profit: which would give you more job satisfaction? (World Economic Forum)

Tracy GreenThe Social Purpose Business