A Q&A with Margaret Moynihan of the MPI Foundation
Corporate Meetings & Incentives: How has the Foundation evolved over the past 25 years?
Moynihan: The Foundation has grown as MPI has grown. In [the past year] we have restructured so that we now have a global board and three advisory councils — one in the U.S., one in Canada, and one in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. We just felt that there needed to be a global structure as well as a regional structure in each of those areas to help us continue to grow. So, while at one time we had about 20 people on the board of trustees raising funds, this puts us at close to 60 people out there raising money for the foundation, and more in a regional fashion.
Also, in the past, in order to raise funds for projects and education, we would have to do a capital campaign. We no longer do that; instead we raise funds throughout the year to support initiatives on a go-forward basis, month by month. And we're different [from other foundations] in that we don't hold onto our money; the minute we receive support for a particular project, we give that right back to our membership.
CMI: Tell us about some of the projects the MPI Foundation has supported recently.
Moynihan: In the last year alone, we gave the chapters $175,000. [MPI has 71 chapters and clubs and more than 24,000 members in 84 countries.] We have supported research studies, including the Canadian Economic Impact Study [which measures jobs, tax revenues, and other economic benefits of the meetings and events industry in Canada] and the European Procurement Study [which aims to identify best practices in procurement in the European meetings industry]. We also provided a grant to The European Meetings and Events Conference to help it pursue BS8901 Sustainable Event Standards.
We also just sponsored the new Certified Meeting Professional online study guide, created through a partnership with Arizona State University and sponsored by the Foundation and Wyndham Hotel Group. It is available on MPI's Web site, and it's the first online study guide for the CMP.
CMI: Who are the foundation's major contributors?
Moynihan: Recently, our top donor has been Wyndham Hotels and Resorts. Other major contributors include Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hyatt Hotels Corp., Omni Hotels, and Carlson Hotels Worldwide.
CMI: How has the economy affected donations and funding?
Moynihan: Gifts may not be as big now as they have been in the past. But I think the biggest impact is that [donors] now want their donation connected to a specific project — whether that be a scholarship or a research effort — they want to be able to see where their money is going. We try to develop various programs around [a donor's] needs and work with them to create a program with the funds if one does not already exist.
CMI: Can you give us a sneak peak at some of the projects in the works?
Moynihan: Well, we just approved a major grant request for research on a new corporate social responsibility tool that would measureefforts within meetings. I don't have any details yet on the development of this tool because it was just approved, but that is one thing that is in the works.
CMI: Why do you donate your time to the MPI Foundation?
Moynihan: I have been an MPI member since 1980, and have volunteered at the local chapter level and then at the international board level. About five years ago, I was asked to come back and contribute more of my time to the MPI Foundation. I agreed to do it because I feel like I am making a difference in people's lives. The more you give, the more you get, and it really is rewarding to be a part of that.