Incorporating Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) into your meetings and events is how you move beyond greening your function and start making your program affect the sustainability of the company, the community and planet. A CSR program allows your event program, and by association your client or company, to leave a legacy in the host community.
As usual, my advice is to make the CSR program you develop applicable to your event and brand. In addition to the giveback opportunity, CSR programs are great press for companies and associations. Our industry felt a huge push back over the previous two years about the excessiveness of meetings and events. CSR is a counter argument to illustrate that companies, though educating and celebrating through their event, are contributing something beneficial to the communities in which they are meeting.
Below are some examples of how companies can incorporate charitable and CSR programs in a way that aligns with the brand and events they are representing:
- Say a networking company does a recognition event for top performers in Bermuda. While on the island, the top performers could volunteer their time and resources to upgrade information technology systems and equipment for the Bermuda educational system and local schools.
- At one event, an educational non-profit used school supplies as décor, using One Laptop Per Child XO computers as the TV screens. All of the décor was then donated to the schools the organization serves. In addition, One Laptop Per Child donated additional laptops through their “Buy One, Donate One” program.
- Through organizations like Special E, Greener Vegas, SCRAP and Materials for the Arts, to name a few, planner can arrange for leftover event items such as décor, promotional goodies, banners and signage to be donated and repurposed in classrooms and art programs.
- A construction conference can have attendees participate in a home-building project or donate show materials to the building of new, low-cost homes.
CSR programs, in addition to providing legacy and public relations benefits, also can work as a great team-building exercise or icebreaker to encourage interaction at your events. It’s amazing how sorting through thousands of cans at a food bank together can build new friendships and goodwill among attendees.