The Give Back – Incorporating CSR into Your Meeting
Corporate social responsibility, or simply CSR, is a way of examining the impacts an organization has on society and assessing its responsibilities towards it. While giving back to society is an important factor of CSR there is far more to it from a company’s perspective than simply the ‘do good’ aspect. Meetings Professionals International (MPI) considers CSR to be “the responsibility of an organization for the impacts of its decisions and activities on society, the environment and its own prosperity.”
Achieving a sound return on a CSR investment is not overlooked by companies nor should it be, as effective social responsibility programs are known as the triple bottom line: People, Planet and Profit. CSR programs can be an important component of a meeting or event and, when incorporated successfully, can have a huge impact on both a community and a company.
So, how can you find the CSR activity that makes sense for your company and effectively incorporate it into your next meeting or event? We’ve listed a few steps that will help any planner find the ideal CSR programs.
1.) Consider Philanthropic Team Building
Somewhat of a twist on the concept of Team Building, Philanthropic Team Building addresses all aspects of CSR. Traditional teambuilding activities center on collaboration with the primary purpose of having a group work in partnership towards a common goal. Philanthropic teambuilding however centers on CSR with the goal of having the group work together towards a common cause.
According to Odyssey Teambuilding, “The proper choice of CSR events can increase cross-functional networks, decrease communication silos, foster solution-based thinking and raise mood levels and productivity.” A company is only as good as its people, thus by investing CSR funds and time into its staff, a company is sending the message that it cares and appreciates its employees. Including a program that offers an emotional experience along with the potential to meet those benefiting from the CSR activities can strengthen the workplace connection, sense of pride and gratitude. Here are a few philanthropic teambuilding activities your group may want to incorporate:
➢ Helping Hands – An award-winning project by Odyssey Teambuilding in which teams actually participate in the building of LN-4 prosthetic hands, which are then given to amputees in developing countries.
➢ Playhouse Challenge – A mini Habitat for Humanity activity also by Odyssey Teambuilding where groups design and build custom playhouses for nonprofit programs, children’s hospitals, or low-income housing areas.
➢ Style Your Soles – This activity by Feet First Events centers on the great TOMS’ shoes give back. Teams begin with plain white canvas TOMS and create their own design. The shoes are then donated to a local homeless shelter or a designated charity.
➢ Sweet Cases –This unique activity from Firefly Events softens the transition for children entering the foster care system. When a child enters Child Protective Services, they’re handed two trash bags and told to put all their belongings inside. This CSR program has teams decorating “Sweet Cases” and filling them with comfort in the form of uplifting messages, blankets, stuffed animals and more.
➢ Bike Build – In this philanthropic event teams actually compete in challenge rounds in order to win bicycle parts, the goal is to construct bikes, which are then donated to a children’s charity.
2.) Make a Donation
Donations are perhaps one of the easiest and most common CSR practices and a quick way to give back to a community. Consider donating products produced by your company or additional office supplies to local schools, hospitals or shelters. Try mixing donation with teambuilding by assembling care packages – medical and/or food related to give to homeless shelters or victims of disaster. Donations could also be in form of service that benefits an entire community.
3.) Go Green
As an act of respect for the environment, green meetings and events address a form of CSR that affects everyone. Think evites and digital programs or, if you must use a printed program insist on using recycled paper. Weave nature into your event décor with natural or rustic wooden tables cutting down on the need to wash linens thus saving water and energy. Try using living plants as centerpieces, which can then be repurposed or planted beautifying an area. Skip the convenience of water bottles and opt for water pitchers instead. You’d be surprised at the impact just a few changes can have on the environment.
4.) Reduce Waste
Think digital and cut down the need for paper goods. Watch the food and beverage and try to avoid excess waste.
Incorporating CSR is good for more than just your team and your company. It’s a commitment to society that’s good for your head, your heart and the world.