Membership Roles

Membership Program Introductory WebinarWhile the Council’s members are organizations, their governance rights, member benefits and dues are tailored to the types of staff they wish to engage in the Council’s work.  This determination is made through Membership Roles.  Click on the questions below to learn how Membership Roles work.

Why does the Council have Membership Roles?

The Council has identified three primary actors in the institutional purchasing marketplace:

  • Those buying goods or services from the institutional purchasing marketplace.
  • Those selling goods or services to the institutional purchasing marketplace.
  • Those advocating for changes in the institutional purchasing marketplace that will advance the public interest.   (Examples)

As part of its governance design, the Council is committed to ensuring that each of these three stakeholder groups has equal representation in all decision-making bodies that produce and approve SPLC work products.  In order to populate decision-making bodies with appropriate representatives of each stakeholder group, the Council has defined three Membership Roles: Purchaser, Supplier, Public Interest Advocate (defined below).  When an organization applies for membership they will identify the role(s) in which their staff are eligible to participate.

Why does it matter which Membership Role(s) an organization chooses?

Membership governance rights, benefits and dues are tailored to each role.  For example, only participants in the Purchaser Role may occupy Purchaser Representative seats on Technical Advisory Groups developing the Council’s guidance programs and only Supplier Role participants may occupy Supplier Representative seats.  Only members with the Supplier Role may have product development, marketing or sales employees participate in Council activities, including exhibiting at the Summit.  Members with the Public Interest Advocate role pay the lowest dues because their participation is not likely to produce cost savings or new sales for their organizations.  Visit the Membership Benefits and Membership Dues pages for full details on the ways that governance rights, benefits and dues are tailored to each role.

When a member organization’s employees register for events, elections, the online community, and other activities of the Council they will be asked to identify their eligibility for one of the Membership Roles their organization has purchased.  Their fit with the Role they choose will be verified and they will be identified with that Role when participating in Council activities (e.g. event badge ribbons, member directory icons, online community).

When can an organization have multiple Membership Roles?

Organizations may choose to participate in the Council in more than one Membership Role, if they have eligible staff for more than one Role and they pay the dues for each Role.

Example 1:  Government Agency with Related Advocacy Mission
A government agency responsible for environmental protection may have staff who advocate for sustainable production and consumption and also have procurement staff who buy goods and services for the agency’s operations.  If both of these groups of staff were interested in participating in Council activities, the agency would purchase the Public Interest Advocate Role to enable the participation of its program staff and the Purchaser Role to enable the participation of its procurement staff.

Example 2:  Company that Provides Services to Institutions
A corporation that supplies services to institutions will have purchasing staff who are distinct from the company’s sales staff, and both functions may see value in participating in the Council.  In that case, the company would purchase the Purchaser Role to enable the participation of its procurement staff and the Supplier Role to enable the participation of its sales staff.

Example 3: Higher Education Institution with Related Faculty/Researchers
A higher education institution with faculty or researchers knowledgeable about sustainability could enable the participation of its faculty and researchers by joining with the Public Interest Advocate Role and also enable the participation of its procurement staff by joining with the Purchaser Role.

Organizations are not required to participate in every Role for which they have eligible staff.  However, the Council does provide a Multi-Role Discount to encourage organizations to engage their full expertise in the Council’s work.

Who is eligible to participate in each Membership Role?

Purchaser Role

Eligible Employees

silhouette of purchaserRegular employees who have significant responsibility for guiding the member organization’s purchasing of goods and services, and who do not have revenue generating responsibilities.

Typical Member Organizations

Companies; governments; higher education institutions; NGOs; and member organizations representing purchasers (e.g., professional societies, supplier development councils, associations)

Typical Job Titles

Purchasing or procurement officers, directors, managers or staff. Sustainability staff that does not have any responsibilities related to developing, marketing and/or selling products or services to organizations. Directors, managers or staff of operational functions without revenue-generating responsibilities, such as facilities. Policymakers involved in developing organizational procurement policy.

Role Benefits  |  Role Dues

Supplier Role

Eligible Employees

silhouette of supplierRegular employees with revenue generating responsibilities related to the design, marketing and provision of goods or services.

Typical Member Organizations

Distributors; manufacturers; Tier 1+ suppliers; service providers (including professional services); certifiers; standards developers; member organizations representing suppliers (e.g., trade associations)

Typical Job Titles

Officers, directors, managers or staff involved in product development, marketing, sales and customer service; Sustainability staff with any responsibilities related to developing, marketing and/or selling products or services to institutions.

Role Benefits  |  Role Dues

Public Interest Advocate Role

Eligible Employees

silhouette of public interest advocateRegular employees of a public interest advocacy organization who do not have responsibilities related to promoting any products and services offered by the organization, including standards and certifications, and who have significant technical expertise in how institutional purchasing affects those aspects of the public interest for which the organization is a recognized advocate.

Typical Member Organizations

Social & environmental non-governmental organizations; government agencies responsible for advancing the public interest in ways relevant to the institutional purchasing marketplace; charitable foundations; policy think-tanks or agencies; academic institutes; professional schools

Typical Job Titles

Program directors, managers and staff; Subject matter specialists and experts; Faculty and researchers.

Role Benefits  |  Role Dues

If you are unclear about what Role(s) would be most appropriate for your organization, the Frequently Asked Membership Questions section may help answer your questions.

Icons for the three Membership Roles.