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Do’s & Don’ts of CSR for Events

Warehouse workers packing up donation boxes in a large warehouse

CSR events are all the rage these days, and for good reason: planners have realized that attendees often enjoy giving back to the community through events, making the events themselves more meaningful. CSR components can mean anything from raising money or collecting goods for a charity to building bikes, assembling care packages, cleaning up parks or building houses – and everything in between. If you haven’t jumped on the CSR bandwagon yet (and CSR stands for Corporate Social Responsibility), here are some do’s and don’ts for adding a CSR component to your next event.

Do Know Your Audience

This is the number one “do” when it comes to CSR. The most common reason that CSR initiatives at events fail is because the organizers failed to think about their audience. When selecting a program or activity, you need to put yourself in your attendees’ shoes. What would they want to participate in? What motivates them? What is meaningful for them that’s also meaningful for your event? Think about demographics, including age and gender.

Do Make It Easy

Your attendees are more likely to participate when it’s easy and convenient. One of the more successful CSR initiatives I’ve seen was at a convention and the organizers asked attendees to donate their unused toiletries from their hotel rooms to a shelter for victims of domestic violence. The organizers had multiple bins to drop off the items. It was an easy way for attendees to participate – who really needs those mini toiletries – and having multiple bins made it convenient to donate.

Don’t Make People Make Difficult Choices

So many CSR projects at meetings and events are one and done. Either they start early (meaning attendees have to plan to arrive early, which might not be an option), or they are scheduled against the only break in a crowded convention schedule, or they are up against popular keynote speakers. In all of those scenarios attendees have to make a difficult choice. So why not schedule the project in multiple shifts, giving people options, if possible?

Do Spread the Word

If you’re adding a CSR component to your event, don’t forget to spread the word – and early! As soon as you have details, share them with your attendees, preferably well before they leave for your meeting so they can pack appropriately. I remember attending a meeting that was collecting winter coats for a local charity and the notice was buried so deep within the marketing materials, I didn’t actually notice it until I was already on-site. What a missed opportunity!

imex challenge

2014 IMEX Challenge gave back to local Shade Tree Shelter in Las Vegas

Do Think Local

Working with a local charity is a great idea for a CSR initiative. Your donation (dollars, time or goods) will probably make a bigger impact than with a larger, national or global charity, meaning your attendees will be able to see their impact sooner. Work with the CVB to identify local opportunities.

Do Double Up

There’s no reason that CSR components can’t double as team building or bonding at your event. This is perfect for CSR projects that are activity based, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or assembling care packages for service members stationed overseas. If it makes sense for the group, it might even become a friendly competition. The important thing is that the “giving back” part is a shared experience – which is really what team building is all about. This is a great tip if you’re trying to get more bang for your buck and need help convincing stakeholders to invest in a CSR program.

Don’t Have Just One Goal

It’s a good idea to have a goal in mind. But why have just one? Instead of focusing on raising a certain amount of money, consider having a target number of participants or hours? It never hurts to have multiple metrics to measure success.

Do Take Lots of Photos

Be sure to have a photographer document the CSR initiative and share on social media – encourage participants to do the same!

So those are just a few do’s and don’ts for adding a CSR initiative to any meeting or event, large or small. Don’t be intimidated – any way that your event can give back is a step in the right direction. Experiment and see what works for your group! Good luck!

5 Responses to “Do’s & Don’ts of CSR for Events”

  1. Sharon Fisher

    Amanda, you have some GREAT tips in this article – especially your first one. But you leave out the most important tip of all:

    Consult with the agency/organization you are helping, and do something that actually benefits THEM! Too often, we only think about our attendees and choose projects because we think they will be fun for our group, but in the end the group is the only one that benefits. We forget that the agencies exist to provide valuable services to their recipients – not to develop projects for us to do or give away stuff that we make.

    It takes time, thought, resources and the desire to have a great partnership to make CSR projects truly meaningful. Remember they really need to be a true benefit to the agency to be truly meaningful.

    Sharon

    Reply
  2. Mariana Garcia

    Many thanks for sharing this helpful advice. As a CSR activities supplier for large events it is always very challengin to meet everyone’s expectations. You are totally right to focus on the benefit for the local association your group is supporting, and be open to new ideas or scenarios where your activity might involve. Thank you for including thar approach, and for acknowledging Sharon Fisher’s comment.

    Reply

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