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Communities: BEAN Shanghai

This week we learn how to become self actualized human beings by helping the ill and the elderly with the Shanghai chapter of BEAN...
Last updated: 2015-11-09
"Communities" is our regular column about just that. It is everything you need to know about a given social organization, group, charity, club, etc. in a convenient, easy-to-read package. This Sunday afternoon BEAN Shanghai is organizing a knitting session to make blankets for AIDS-impacted orphans in South Africa. This week we talk with BEAN Shanghai's Vice President of Marketing Cheryl Wallace to talk to learn more about this volunteer organization.

What is the organization BEAN about? What does BEAN stand for?

"BEAN is an organization that helps make it easy for young, working professionals to connect with each other, have fun and serve the community at the same time."

When was it founded? How many members and chapters do you have?

"BEAN was founded in 2003 in Seattle, Washington, United States. Currently, there are about 22 chapters worldwide with over 10,000 members. Shanghai is the largest branch, and we have been around since September 2008."

Tell us about the different kinds of events and activities that BEAN organizes in Shanghai? (What causes do you pay most attention to?)

"The majority of our events are service-oriented, and range from helping socialize and engage orphans, chilling and playing Jenga with some elderly folks to learning to knit squares to make blankets for orphans in South Africa. On the other end of the spectrum, we plan monthly networking events and a documentary night."

Where does the money from the fundraisers go? How much money do you raise?

"If someone wants to donate the money goes directly to our charity partners. They use the money differently, the orphanages use the money to buy diapers (otherwise ayis must use plastic bags to help clothe the babies), the migrant center purchases books for their reading program, etc.)"

How many people are on the Shanghai team and what do they do?

"Oh man, the whole thing is run by about 30 very, very dedicated and selfless people in their free time. There is so much that goes into making sure the events go as smoothly as possible for our volunteers. It starts with the website and email operations team. They put in lunch breaks and evenings to ensure that volunteers have a direct line of communication to us. They're the ones who make sure that events aren't overbooked and people get their reminders on time. We have an entire team of leaders who have close relationships with our partner organizations and venues. They set up each event with our charity partners and ensure that each of our volunteers has a positive experience whether they are at a fundraiser or out chilling with some elderly folk. We have an entire group of people dedicating time to make sure that events are posted, creating artwork and graphics, videos, and everything else to make sure that people know how to get involved. All of our Shanghai team puts in a lot of extra hours a week making sure that BEAN runs as smooth as butter and we're always looking for new talented and dedicated people to join our team."

How can people join the organization and participate in an event or activity?

"The easiest way for people to join is to sign up on our site. From there, the events page is updated regularly with upcoming events. Generally, you send an email and bam! You're ready to volunteer! Most social events just require your awesome presence, so just show up and you're golden."

What makes BEAN different than other organizations?

"BEAN is about connecting with other people, helping the community and having fun. Most groups here require a longer commitment, and it is really hard to commit in such a fast-paced, always-changing city. For example, some expats don't know always know when they're leaving and it's not unrealistic to hear friends say they just found out they've got to leave the country within a week. BEAN strives to make volunteering and giving back to the community accessible to all people here — both expats and locals. There's such a mix of people at our events and we try to make sure that all people can have positive experience without worrying about language barriers. It's amazing how much love and communication can be shared without worrying about language!"

What other organizations do you collaborate with?

There's quite a list of them, and we work closely together with every single one of our partners. All of the organizations support very different causes and help groups of people, such as orphans, disabled, migrant children, homeless and the elderly. It is important for us to stay completely updated on their needs and their development so that we can always make sure to give the right support. We are happy to have a very flexible group of friends that support us, so that changes can be made when needed and activities are always meaningful for the organization and the volunteers. This Sunday afternoon you can join the people of BEAN from 3pm until 6pm by sending an email to For more details click here