As one of the largest nonprofit health care organizations in the United States, Easterseals serves over 1.5 million people annually through its national network of 70 independent affiliates focusing on empowering people with disabilities, families and communities to be full and equal participants in society.
Easterseals turned to Amazon Business to benefit from its procurement tools and services. Kendra Davenport, the president and chief executive officer of Easterseals, says about half of those affiliates have adopted these tools. “Extremely fast for the world of nonprofits,” she says.
Davenport claims that Easterseals’ use of Amazon Business generated a collective savings of almost $100,000. Financial savings are immensely important for any charitable organization, but Davenport believes this is just one of the critical benefits Easterseals gained.
“We are leading the way to full equity, inclusion and access to education, employment and health care for people with disabilities, whether visible or invisible, throughout their lifespan,” Davenport says. “The services our affiliates offer are based on the needs of their communities.”
Easterseals provides a vast array of services, including early intervention, early education programs, autism services, medical rehabilitation therapies, behavioral health, employment programs, residential services, in-home care, veterans’ services, programs for older adults, camp and recreation, and more.
Procurement departments face considerable challenges due to the variety of individually tailored services offered by Easterseals. About a year ago, the nonprofit’s leadership decided to significantly upgrade organizational purchasing capabilities. “Our affiliates were interested in partnering with the national office to realize savings and efficiency in procurement, allowing them to mitigate competing priorities within their organizations as well as the logistical and supply chain challenges so many businesses are experiencing,” Davenport says.
For 25 years, Pattie Rosenlund has worked for Easterseals Rio Grande Valley in McAllen, Texas, and serves as its executive director. She says she was looking for a more efficient system for the organization’s purchasing protocols. “We’d have different managers on different websites, trying to make sure they got the best value, and in some cases they’d need to go to the store,” Rosenlund says. “If a specific quantity was needed, and stores didn’t have enough, they’d have to go to another. So there was a lot of wasted time.”
Rosenlund quickly integrated Amazon Business, which allows employees to find and purchase important items faster. “Everybody has their own account and can consult on which items are the best value and make their selections. I see the baskets and can easily reject or approve,” she says. “Delivery comes directly to the specific program location or office. It’s so much more efficient and streamlined.”
"With Amazon Business, we have a better chance of identifying and purchasing from companies run by people with disabilities. That helps us really live our mission, walking the walk, if you will."
— Kendra Davenport President and Chief Executive Officer, Easterseals
Rosenlund notes that this not only makes it easier to purchase basic needs products—house fans, diapers or portable playards for babies—but also is particularly helpful while finding special items often required by the families of children with disabilities. “We have home visiting programs and early intervention, and often need items that work for a specific child’s needs,” Rosenlund says. “It’s so nice to be able to shop strategically and find the right product needed for a family.”
Her team benefits from the integrated accounting and annotation provided through Amazon Business, where every dollar spent by her affiliate must be cleared as an allowable cost by grant providers. “This system lets us include notes and track the purpose of items,” Rosenlund says. “So something like bug spray or sunscreen might raise an eyebrow during an audit, but if we note it’s for our spring water safety program, that makes it clear. It connects directly to our finance department, and tracks the details that are important for an audit.”
She sees multiple benefits from integration with Amazon Business—easier collaboration, efficient shopping, better accounting—and ultimately the partnership frees her team to fulfill its mission. “All that saved time and money is invested back into what we’re here to do, which is to serve families in the community,” Rosenlund says.
Davenport believes Rosenlund’s experience reflects those of others across the affiliate network. “Most of our affiliates have very lean staffing. People are already doing two or three things that may not be in their job description,” Davenport says. “When we can free them up to devote time to the things that are most important, it not only improves our service to the community, but I think it also helps with people’s morale and mental state at work.”
Working with Amazon Business provides additional benefits for Easterseals. Amazon Business Donations Hub facilitates in-kind contributions given directly to the organization. At Easterseals Rio Grande Valley, Rosenlund says a large donation of men’s oxford shirts and women’s blouses was distributed to job seekers in the community. Beyond the benefits to recipients, Davenport says donations facilitated by Amazon Business work as a force multiplier. “The savings we see by being more efficient in procurement are augmented and compounded by those in-kind donations.”
Just as critically, Amazon Business helps Easterseals deliver on its mission to support diverse businesses and help people with disabilities find work. “With Amazon Business, we have a better chance of identifying and purchasing from companies run by people with disabilities,” Davenport says. “That helps us really live our mission, walking the walk, if you will.”
The relationship has developed to where Amazon Business is helping Easterseals in its commitment to help find work for people with disabilities. “We’re currently working with Amazon to identify and hire individuals who have benefited from our job training programs,” Davenport says. “One young man in east Georgia secured a job that was important to him not only for the work, but also for health care benefits that helped treat him for debilitating migraines.”
Davenport sees tremendous potential going forward for the relationship between Easterseals and Amazon Business.
“The scope of the partnership makes it unique. It’s not just a procurement relationship, but a savings one too. It’s one I believe is mutually beneficial and helps both parties achieve significant goals,” Davenport says. “It’s a partnership around in-kind donations, and one that introduces new consumers and demographics to Easterseals who might not otherwise know who we are or how broad our impact is.”
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