As this holiday season approaches, we enjoy seeing projects that make terrific gift ideas while also supporting our local B Corps. We recently spoke with Craig Hill, Certifications Chair for B Local PDX, about a fundraising project that we’re all excited about: The B Corp Wine Country Passport.
First of all, for those who might not know, could you tell us bit more about your connection to the B Corp community?
My name is Craig Hill and I’m the Certifications Chair for B Local PDX. Unpacking that a bit, B Local PDX is a 501c3 nonprofit board made up of employees of certified B Corps from the greater Portland area. We’re a community that helps business people act on their purpose to achieve socio-economic and environmental impact through meaningful relationships. We work to provide certification support for aspiring and existing B Corps, connections for growth opportunities, and collaboration around social & environmental impact. As Certifications Chair, I work specifically to help grow the community through supporting those going through their initial B Impact Assessment, as well as sustaining the community for companies who are recertifying. Since B Corp certification lasts for three years, that means every B Corp at some point needs some certification support—and I try to help however I can!
There’s so many B Corps in Oregon! How did you decide to focus on the wineries?
I’ve personally been thrilled to see how the world-class wine industry we have in our backyard that is the Willamette Valley has embraced the B Corp movement. They recognize not only the importance of environmentally responsible and sustainable stewardship practices, but also how essential it is to treat their employees and supply chain with the utmost respect. They’ve collaborated to make B Corp wine (or #bcORpwine) into its own cohort of wineries doing well by doing good, and supporting collaboration over competition—something that’s rare in the traditional business space. They work to convince other wineries to follow their path. I wanted to find a way we could celebrate that collaboration by highlighting all of the wineries in some way, not just one of them. Plus, they’ve all been extremely generous in their support for the B Corp community’s growth—they’re always donating wine not just locally, but to other B Corp movements in other markets as well—and I wanted to find a way we could drive some business their way because of those values.
How did the idea to make this passport come about? What were the goals of this project?
The idea of a B Corp wine club, where you could join one wine club and get wine from all of the B Corps, was the initial idea, but we decided instead to focus on how we can inspire folks to visit each of the wineries during some of their post-holiday months when the tourist season slows down. After talking about it with a few stakeholders, we thought: wouldn’t it be cool if you could have all the wineries listed in one place, and check them all out? Something like a passport, where you can get stamped? So we approached the wineries and pitched the idea. They all banded together to make coordinated commitments to fly under a banner of a passport, where folks can come out and check out one, two, or all of them. The values could be the reason for their visit, providing a signal in the noise in a crowded industry and they can find their new favorite winery on their shared values.
One of the most exciting things for us was seeing all the different local B Corps involved in this project. Can you talk a little about how that happened?
Definitely! This was such an iterative process, but from the start I knew we had to have the wineries buy in, we had to design the passport, and of course have it printed. If this was for raising the profile of B Corps, we were committed to working with B Corps all the way. The wineries already were meeting regularly, so I was able to crash a meeting of theirs, pick their brains about the idea, and get some tentative buy-in to scope the rest of the project.
Then, since I have no background in ANY sort of design. I reached out to our B Corp Slack channel and asked if anyone might be interested in work for pay or pro-bono donation to B Local—and Mad Fish Digital stepped up immediately. They did a fantastic job (I mean, look at the end product! It’s beautiful!) and did so in a tight time-frame. And last but certainly not least: the printing itself! We knew Scout Books had a passport-sized booklet and it just seemed like the perfect fit. Cierra and the team at Scout Books stepped up and made a tighter timeline work and printed everything in time for our annual B Bash party early this month. So it was eight B Corp wineries donating tastings, a B Corp designing the booklet, and a B Corp printing the booklet, with all proceeds going to B Local PDX and growing the B Corp movement in our community.
Do you have any advice for other communities or organizations that might be interested in pulling together a similar fundraising project?
Do it! Just start. Find folks who want to help and talk about it. Know there are always going to be more ideas than time or resources to do everything, but that shouldn’t be an excuse for doing nothing. So do something instead and iterate on that. We’ve had so many folks approach us and want to do a more expansive idea in the future and we’re all ears—and always seeking volunteers to help pull it off!
How can folks get their hands on one of these passports? The B Store at the Lloyd Center will have most of the remaining copies, but Nossa Familia will have some for sale with all proceeds to B Local PDX at their Central Eastside Guatemala Café and their Pearl Location as well while supplies last-and they’re mostly sold already, so move quickly!
And, finally, can you share any special tips or suggestions for visiting some of these awesome wineries?
Yes! Support them by showing up in January and February, when many tourists are at home and not visiting. Say you’re there because of their B Corp values! B Corp certification isn’t just good for values or a roadmap for improvement: it’s a better way of doing business and finding new customers. The more we reinforce that mentality and businesses know they are doing well by doing good, the more of a case study there is for using business as a force for good!