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Soap for Hope Canada

Victoria-based non-profit which provides over 400 community facilities and remote communities in B.C. and Alberta with hygiene products.

 

Anne McIntyre, Founder and Executive Director of Soap for Hope Canada.

Environmental and community impact through social enterprise

Anne McIntyre, Founder and Executive Director of Soap for Hope Canada.

The Soap for Hope Canada Warehouses are busy places. In Victoria, community volunteers stop by with trucks full of donations from hotels across the island. Volunteers inside sort and organize. Thick fleece blankets, washed bedsheets, pillows, kitchenware and more, Soap for Hope Canada accepts from hotels what they would otherwise throw away, re-processes and distributes them to people in need.

What started with hygiene products – soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion – has expanded to encompass linens, pillows, and towels distributed to over 400 community facilities and remote communities in BC and Alberta. 

Soap for Hope Canada Founder and Executive Director Anne McIntyre shares about the non-profit organization, new laundry soap and their new social enterprise Second Hand Hope. 

In 2019 alone, the team kept over a million products from being directed to the landfill. And the need is evident: when the Soap for Hope Canada YYC recently accepted a donation of 2,700 pillows, they fully distributed them within just five days. Since, over 1,000 interested parties have been added to a waitlist for more pillows.

Anne McIntyre, Founder and Executive Director of Soap for Hope Canada, loves being able to help the community.

“I think that one of the most important things you should do in your work always is to enjoy what you do, and have fun with it because then it doesn’t seem like work at all. I have exceptional staff that love to be here, and we have a great time helping people every day. It’s fantastic,” said Anne McIntyre.

There’s a lot for Soap for Hope Canada to be celebrating. Their latest product, Laundry Soap, is being produced, sold and distributed to community facilities that need it. The new laundry soap is made from just four ingredients, including recycled bars of soap. Not only is it packaged without plastic and affordably priced, the laundry soap is also good for the community, with profits from every purchase being used to subsidize laundry soap for community facilities that do not have the means to purchase it.

Thanks to funding from the Victoria Foundation Investment Readiness Program, the non-profit was able to hire someone to develop and create a process to recycle soap bars that are broken, too small or otherwise unusable for redistribution and turn them into laundry soap. Implementing this process means the organization has reduced their garbage even further.

Good for the environment and the community, Soap for Hope’s new laundry soap is made from just four ingredients – including recycled soap bars. When community members purchase it, profits go toward providing laundry soap for community facilities who need it. 

Soap for Hope Canada’s latest social enterprise is Second Hand Hope: a thrift store that came about earlier this year as a response to the large quantities of lost and found the organization receives from hotels. “I’m talking massive amounts – we could not hand it out fast enough,” said Anne McIntyre.

Run by two business students, Second Hand Hope creates an environment charged with positive and youthful energy. Currently, the social enterprise thrift store is running on an appointment-only basis.

“What started out as us just selling off our lost and found turned into other [non-profits] giving us stuff, or trading, and we’ve created a little business from this.”

Incorporating a social enterprise model means Soap for Hope Canada can generate revenue and move away from solely relying on grants or donations. Having a baseline of revenue has allowed the non-profit to keep staff employed and do more for the community.

In response to the 1000+ unmarked graves, Second Hand Hope and SSISLANDS have collaborated to sell scrunchies in the Second Hand Hope thrift store. SSISLANDS can also be found on Instagram @_ssislands_.

SSISLANDS has financially supported ‘The Indian Residential School Survivor Society’ and ‘The Native Women’s Association of Canada’. SSISLAND will continue to support Indigenous communities by giving 30% of profits from each orange scrunchie sold back to Indigenous organizations. 

Social enterprise advice from Anne McIntyre

Be very specific about why you are creating your social enterprise and how the funding is going to elevate your non-profit. When people are supporting you as a social enterprise, show them that if they act in one area (such as purchasing Soap for Hope’s new Salish Sea Soap Pebbles), it will have impacts in another (funds being directed to supporting an Indigenous project).

 Transparency is key. Anne suggests being very specific about where the money is going so buyers feel the tangible impact of their purchasing power.

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Social Enterprise Catalyst is convened by Scale Collaborative. Copyright 2022