Many manufacturers within the promotional products industry have made exemplary commitments to design and produce products that were either recycled, recyclable, produced within fair trade practices, constructed with organic cotton, or made without harmful chemicals such as BPA.  A new member of this group is Helping Hands Rewards who partners with organizations around the world to provide products to the promotional and incentive industry that directly benefit the individuals making the products in a socially responsible manner.  For example, Helping Hand Rewards partners with a nonprofit called Comfort the Children that provides organic cotton coffee sleeves (otherwise known as L.I.F.E. Jackets) which are created by marginalized Kenyan mothers of children with special needs.  The client purchasing promotional products such as these get added value of having a fun, practical product that the end-user is sure to remember and one that delivers a huge positive impact on the originators of the product as well.

HHR acts as a conduit and catalyst between social purpose businesses that produce merchandise, and promotional products distributors and incentive companies.  They describe themselves by saying “We provide opportunities for people to practice not only environmental sustainability, but social sustainability, too.  Our partners strengthen communities and change lives every day.”  HHR has a zero-based profit structure, and provides marketing, business development and distribution expertise to socially-focused organizations that are interested in expanding their business in the incentive and promotional market.  Their long-term objective is to stimulate symbiotic relationships between those businesses seeking to demonstrate their commitment to supporting socially responsible initiatives and the grassroots organizations that create opportunities for people to improve their lives.

You may be surprised at how much benefit can be delivered to the artisans and organizations providing these products when you select them for your marketing campaigns. 

  • Purchase of $1,140 of products provides one month employment and training for an individual at Bright Endeavors.
  • At Mary Fisher, the sale of one bracelet can feed a person for one day, five bracelets can pay primary school fees for five months, and six bracelets can pay rudimentary housing rental.
  • At Mercado Global, $350 in sales can provide employment for an artisan for one month.  Their earnings can buy 250 pounds of beans, 130 pounds of fruit, 90 pounds of meat or pay the full cost of primary school for two children.

Here are glimpses of a few of the products made available through HHR and their partners…

  • Bright Endeavors offers a line of candles to support job training programs for homeless and at-risk young mothers.
  • Pure Eden is a similar organization that’s mission is to empower women economically and teach employment skills by offering soaps and travel kits.
  • fiveAccessories empowers and delivers sustainable livelihoods to Cambodian artisans by the sales of computer sleeves, messenger bags, media cases, shopping totes, and wallets made from recycled mosquito netting.
  • Common Thread Cooperative is a Canadian organization that provides employment to immigrants and those living with mental illness and similar challenges.  They offer hand-sewn convention totes and gift bags made from re-purposed Olympics and street banners.
  • Moda Esperanza is a fair trade organization in Honduras that manufactures bags, purses and bracelets made from recycled “pop tabs” with the proceeds benefitting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
  • Helping Hand Artisans is a cooperative of individual crafters in the developing world, and they distribute lovely art bowls made from recycled bicycle tire spokes and recycled iron rings from local repair shops in India, journals and photo frames made from garden waste in Bali, and photo frames made from recycled bicycle chains sponsored by an NGO in India.
  • The Chicago Lighthouse offers clocks made in the USA by blind and visually impaired individuals.
  • The Abataka Foundation offers a beautiful line of beaded bracelets as a means for AIDS-affected women to support themselves and their families in Africa.
  • Greyston Bakery, the exclusive producer of brownies for Ben & Jerry’s, directs the proceeds from their Do-Goodie Brownies to benefit the community development projects of the Greyston Foundation.
  • Women Helping Other Women earmarks the proceeds from their gourmet cakes to provide training, education and employment to women who have had to seek refuge in a domestic violence center.

HHR also offers Gift Cards so that end-user recipients can choose their own reward for incentive programs.

We hope that you consider this approach and how it can add new meaning to marketing campaigns while giving back to community.  Please contact TheMarketPro when you need promotional products and decorated apparel so that we can provide the information you need to make the best possible purchasing decisions.  TheMarketPro can be reached at 800-905-0073 or .  Additional articles can be found at in our “Going Green with Promotional Products” and “Coffee Break Reading” sections.

Sources:          “Socially Responsible Products—Helping Hand Rewards”, Advantages Supplement, Advertising Specialty Institute, April 2013, page 29.

Author:             Connie King

Published:        June 2013

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