1. CLEAN THE WORLD

Favorite of: Dave Kovaleski, senior writer, MeetingsNet

Web site: www.cleantheworld.org

Did you ever wonder what happens to those partially used soap bars after you check out of your hotel room? Thanks to Orlando-based Clean the World and participating hotels (the organization has partnerships with Carlson, Mandarin Oriental, Harrah’s, Caesars Entertainment, Preferred Hotel Group, Walt Disney World, and hundreds of individual properties), it is cleaned, recycled into new blocks, and sent to people in Haiti and other third-world countries who are in dire need of it. The charity has also created a program specifically for meeting planners. When they sign up to participate, soap from the entire hotel gets recycled—not just from the room block.

Since its launch in 2009, Clean the World has collected and distributed about six million bars of soap and 300,000 pounds of shampoo to people in need. It collects soap daily from about 100,000 hotel rooms in North America.

Why I chose them: As founder Shawn Seipler says, Clean the World can “change history in our lifetime.” Millions of people around the world, particularly in impoverished regions, die every year from hygiene-related illnesses due to the lack of soap. This program is literally saving lives and can help create what he calls a “hygiene revolution.” I’ve seen their processing facility in Orlando and it’s impressive. It’s an incredibly important program that meeting planners can be a part of by donating money, hosting a soap drive, or joining their meeting-planner program.

2. HELPING HAND REWARDS

Favorite of: Barbara Scofidio, editor, Corporate Meetings & Incentives

Web site: www.helpinghandrewards.org

HHR provides marketing, business development, and distribution expertise to socially focused organizations that are interested in expanding their business into the incentive reward market. Partners include companies such as Chicago Lighthouse, which employs 30 blind employees to manufacture wall clocks, or Greyston Bakery in Yonkers, N.Y., which hires hard-to-employ individuals and is a model for inner-city business development.

Why I chose them: I have followed Hinda Incentives’ Michael Arkes’ development of Helping Hands Rewards for years and always enjoy seeing HHR companies exhibit their wares at the Motivation Show in Chicago alongside the typical incentive gifts—the electronics and watches and luggage. Some of the participants are fair trade companies and all of them give back to their communities. I encourage buyers to choose gifts like this—you have the potential to do good with your incentive merchandise purchase!

3. PACK FOR A PURPOSE

Favorite of: several Meetingsnet editors

Web site: www.packforapurpose.org

A life-changing event during an African safari trip inspired former teacher Rebecca Rothney to found Pack for a Purpose. When she and her husband Scott realized they still had space in their suitcases, they got their hands on a local school’s “wish list,” packed up the supplies, and delivered them directly to the school. Since then, Rebecca, Scott, and fellow travelers have made several trips to other countries, carrying more than 1,000 pounds of clothing, and school and medical supplies.

But the Rothneys knew that carrying large amounts of supplies required a great deal of time and logistical cooperation, so they came up with a simpler idea. By creating a Web site with an up-to-date list of needed supplies in different destinations—school supplies, medical supplies, and other small items (such as soccer balls)—and asking travelers to deliver just five pounds directly to participating hotels, everyone can make a big difference.

Why we chose them: Every one of your meeting participants can find five pounds of suitcase space (pack one fewer pair of shoes!), which means everyone can participate and make a difference in the lives of the people in the community they are visiting.

4. NETWORK FOR THE NEEDY

Favorite of: Betsy Bair, editorial director, MeetingsNet/Corporate Meetings & Incentives

Web site: www.pcma.org/membership/community-service/network-for-the-needy.htm

Founded in 1990, Network for the Needy started a simple initiative to donate leftover food from conventions. NFTN has grown into an educational program for industry professionals to learn how to give back to their communities through meetings. Sponsored by a generous grant from Global Experience Specialists, NFTN is available throughout the United States and Canada at no cost and involves a wide range of programs and activities.

Why I chose them: PCMA’s Network for the Needy began way before corporate social responsibility became a buzz phrase. Many meeting managers don’t realize that they can donate excess food that has not bee served from meetings and special events without liability under the Good Samaritan laws in most states. It is a simple way to help those in need.

Whenever possible, outline the requirement of excess food donation in your event RFP and facility contract. Most convention centers already have a preferred community partner for food donation. You can also visit Feeding America or Canadian Association of Food Banks to find food banks near your event. Certain questions should be asked about completion of forms, picking up and/or dropping off donations, and ensuring the quality of the donations.

5. SEARCH FOUNDATION

Favorite of: Sue Hatch, executive editor, Corporate Meetings & Incentives, and Lisa Hurley, Editor, Special Events

Web site: www.searchfoundation.org

Founded in 1997, the Scottsdale, Ariz.–based nonprofit is dedicated to offering financial assistance to event professionals facing catastrophic circumstances. Since its inception, the group has given away more than $183,000 to people in need, including victims of Hurricane Katrina. In 2010, the group launched an educational arm that has funded close to 100 scholarships to industry conferences.

Why we chose them: It’s inspiring to see the community reach out to help its own. In 2011, the Search Foundation fundraiser during The Special Event Show raised nearly $45,000 for the cause. Other fundraising events have been held during ISES Eventworld and Event Solutions’ Idea Factory.

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