This nonprofit organization utilizes corporate gifting to change lives

“You’re lucky if you get an opportunity to see the impact of the work that you do.” – Tamra Ryan, CEO, Women’s Bean Project

Whether you are supplying conference attendees with gifts or sending personalized gifts to business partners, associates or friends, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be demonstrated through the choices planners and executives make when choosing a gifting supplier that is using their proceeds for good.

Women’s Bean Project is a nonprofit organization hiring women who have been unsuccessful in finding employment and provides a personalized program for each individual to bolster their self-esteem and learn life and job skills they can utilize anywhere they go. Smart Meetings sat down with CEO Tamra Ryan to discuss the mission and how choosing Women’s Bean Project for corporate gifting is mutually beneficial and rewarding on many levels.

The Program

Women’s Bean Project temporarily hires women who have found it difficult to gain and/or maintain employment and through what Ryan calls a “self-sufficiency matrix” assessment test on their first day of hire, staff is equipped to recommend different classes that can be the most beneficial for each woman as their reasons for struggling with employment can vary greatly.

Tamra Ryan, CEO, Women's Bean Foundation
Tamra Ryan, CEO, Women’s Bean Foundation

“For instance, we do a whole series around trauma and recognizing the impact of trauma on one’s life,” says Ryan. “So that could be transformative for one person who has really not understood what her reaction to her past trauma is.”

“On the other hand, they’re in a computer class,” continues Ryan. “A woman in her 50s, who never turned on a computer before, that can be transformative. She can create an email address and she knows how to attach a resume to it.”

Ryan stresses the main goal of the 6–9-month program is to give women the skills for self-sufficiency to job search and maintain employment after they leave the program. “I think of it like a toolbox,” says Ryan. “She’s filling her toolbox. We want her to be able to replicate the job search when she leaves.”

Read More: CSR Fights Hunger

Corporate Gifting

One of the ways Women’s Bean Project spreads its message and products is through corporate gifting. With a wide variety of gift packages and individual gifts, the nonprofit organization has the ability to send one gift or in bulk to each recipient when given a list by a corporate client. With more and more companies paying attention to CSR, Ryan says Women’s Bean Project is an impactful way to have meaningful corporate gifting.

“What we do is (provide) an opportunity to actually purchase a product and send it to a client,” she says. “And then, I think, that the ‘halo effect’ that the company gets from supporting an organization is real.”

The gifts come to recipients as more than just products from a nonprofit organization, but with stories to connect people to the woman who hand-packed the gift with a short anecdote about her life. “We work really hard to make sure that when somebody gets our product in their hands, every one of our products tells a little story,” says Ryan. “We’re just trying to reinforce that there’s actually a person whose life has been changed by this product.”

With gift boxes and bundles of various themes and sizes, corporate gifting can be personalized as the client sees fit. There is a soup and cornbread gift, and a whole mealtime gift box. There is a rice and bean cup variety pack and a cookie gift set. Purchase the sampler boxes to get a little bit of everything, or for dog lovers, there is even a dog treat gift box!

Women's Bean Project Gift Box

Not only are the gifts packaged by the program participants, the women also are involved in new product ideas and encouraged to give their ideas and opinions. “We started with bean soup mix, that’s where the name came from,” says Ryan. “Since then, when we’re thinking about introducing a new product, we always engage the program participants in taste testing and rating.” She was hesitant to name a favorite product but did mention the “really yummy” split pea soup and the ginger zing trail mix.

Read More: Smart Chat: Dana Chorpenning on Responsible Gifting

How to Get Involved

Partnering with Women’s Bean Project to provide services and volunteers for training helps the participants put even more “tools in their tool kit.” From helping participants build a professional wardrobe, to health and dental care to mental wellness support, corporate and community partners help Women’s Bean Project provide the best for their participants. Yet the best way to support is to simply choose the nonprofit for corporate gifting.

“The one thing I always want to drive home is that we are a sales driven organization and sales create jobs,” says Ryan. “If someone would like to support us, one of the best ways to do it, which is mutually beneficial, is by ordering our products or giving them as gifts.”

Ryan ensures Women’s Bean Project can handle large orders from corporations with long lists of recipients or a meeting planner’s need to supply large conferences.

“What is appealing to meeting planners is that we can do really big bulk orders,” says Ryan. “We do gifts for conferences. We also have the ability to take a company’s list and ship to as many addresses they wish.”