Two years ago, we published our award-winning feature about companies who give back through meetings, and at that time it seemed as if going green and giving back were among the next big things for meeting planners. However, the economy had already started its downslide—and everyone knows what happened next. When survival mode kicked in, corporate social responsibility often took a back seat to crisis management.
Nevertheless, a community service activity remains one of the most feel-good and memorable components of many financial and insurance meetings—and it can help to counter perception problems. In an informal poll taken at The Ritz-Carlton Insurance Advisory Council meeting in late August, about half of the 30 planners in attendance said that they typically have a community service activity at meetings or incentive programs. Said one: “Theactivity is what attendees remember and take away.” The fact is that making a positive contribution to the community is likely to be part of the mission statement of both your company and of your meeting hotel.
The personal and corporate benefits of charity activities are well documented. Today’s questions are: What projects will resonate with attendees, and how can you find the time to make it work? Here are three tips recommended by participants at The Ritz-Carlton Insurance Advisory Council:
1. Partner with hotels. Ask early on if they can help with activities. Most have community service programs in place, and local charities they are involved with. At The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, advisory council attendees packed up a large donation of food that hotel employees had collected the previous week for a community assistance center, and listened to a heartfelt talk from a neighborhood resident who had benefited from the center. It was a small yet meaningful contribution that everyone felt great about.
2. Involve your company. Design a CSR activity that aligns with your corporate mission, and promote the heck out of it to your attendees. One insurance planner, for example, runs a successful fundraising event in conjunction with her annual recognition conference, whose proceeds are matched by the company.
3. Learn from others. When you are weighing the pros and cons of CSR options, use the experience of those who have been there. You’ll find a library of articles, case studies, and tips on both giving back and going green at our Give Back One-Stop.