Caring: The Least Expected Key to Unlocking Your Ingenuity

(Written by guest blogger, Stephanie Montini, CMP)

How can we incorporate caring into the work place? A missing link for some, caring can provide the boost your team desperately needs.

The CSR Upswing

Volunteerism is often seen as a prominent and important part of our personal lives. And, as the line between our personal and business life blurs, so does the desire for employees to give back at work. To that end, corporate social responsibility (CSR) has recently become a hot topic among meeting executives. CSR events bring corporate groups of varying sizes together through a mix of different activities to benefit local or national non-profit organizations – and, these CSR activities are on the rise.

Even though a CSR program may not directly bring in revenue, the external pressures for companies to ”give back” in the marketplace will continue to cause CSR engagement to grow. CSR activities not only increase brand equity, but they also offer internal team building opportunities. Additionally, when a CSR activity is combined with a meeting or event, logistics can be streamlined as people are already gathered together – thereby saving budget dollars.

Get Started

CSR activities come in a variety of shapes and sizes. An important consideration when planning is the end objective; careful consideration will help you choose the right cause. Are there causes or charities already integrated into your organizational culture? If so, it may make sense to pick an activity or non-profit that is an extension of your brand or industry. If your company sells educational software, supporting local schools may be a fun way to help attendees build a connection with their target audience.

Other factors to consider when choosing an activity include regional issues or the time of year (i.e. winter coat drive). The most effective and efficient CSR projects relate to the geographic region, organizational passion and available budget. However, initiatives don’t always have to be large orchestrated events. A CSR may be a recycling focus at your conference – consider ways in which you can reuse materials and handouts from the meeting.

Team Up

Once you have decided to engage in a CSR activity, select volunteer organizers who care about the cause. They will be engaged and serve as internal advocates for the project. It will be their job to create allegiance and excitement, which is essential to any CSR activity. In addition to engaging the right team, it is also important to promote the activity. Many organizations mandate attendance at a CRS to show how important it is to the overall conference.

One of the first steps for the planning team should be to review the conference agenda to evaluate available time and space. This review is key to selecting the right activity; planners also should consider attendee demographics, attitudes and work styles as it may influence the activity choice.

In addition to activity choice, scheduling the necessary time and providing the right supplies are key. If you are planting a garden, are the correct tools available and within reach? If stuffing backpacks, are the school supplies organized? If your meeting is out of town, assign a local advocate to work directly with the organization to coordinate logistics.

Finally, it’s important to assign a CSR host who will help the group navigate the activity. The host also can reiterate the give back message and connect it to the company philosophy.

No Need to Break the Bank

There is a perception that CSR activities can be costly, however with proper planning, there are a variety of ways to alleviate budget drain.

  • Donate time – it is a simple and impactful way to give back without sacrificing the bottom line.
  • Provide an incentive for employees to donate – If you want to raise $10,000 but your budget can’t justify it, auction off extra vacation days to the highest bidder to raise money.

Another means to afford a CSR activity is to look for funds outside of the event budget. While the conference budget can cover the facility rental and activity organization, there may be additional funds available from a corporate line-item.

Real World Benefits

Although CSR activities may be a trendy topic in the event world today, the benefits are real. Integrating a CSR activity into your next conference can easily create goodwill for all involved.

Stephanie Montini, CMP
National Sales Account Executive, metroConnections, Inc.

 

Stephanie MontiniGuest Blogger

Stephanie Montini, CMP

National Sales Account Executive, metroConnections, Inc.

Stephanie Montini, CMP has been working as National Sales Account Executive with the metroConnections team since October 2012. She puts her skills to use identifying new national business opportunities and customers, maintaining strong relationships with clients, and assisting corporate and association clients with meetings, conferences, conventions, tradeshows, incentive trips, and more. Montini is a graduate of Columbia College and has prior experience in sales, operation account management, and convention services around the country.

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