Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has gone beyond the yearly race for charity or food drive benefitting a local shelter. Environmental issues, international causes, or social justice is no longer considered off limits for businesses. Mainstream brands now have no reservations about taking a stance on ‘buzz’ issues.

 

Pepsi, Jello, Target, and Google are just a handful of companies using social movements for empowerment. So why should this trend be on your radar as a planner? Meetings and events can contribute positively and ethically to communities and cultures with practical insight and XX. The events industry can be inspired to view Corporate Social Responsibility, ethics, and sustainability no longer as just a best practice, but as a business standard.

 

According to a study done by the International Centre for Research and Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds University in London, nearly 60% of meeting-industry professionals feel that their customers expect them to actively practice Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

When engineered thoughtfully, strategic CSR projects fulfill a real social need while helping attach event participants to each other, your sponsors, your event and your client. Remember that while CSR is not only a responsibility, it is also an exciting opportunity.

 

In that same Leeds University study, 86% of industry professionals believe that the meetings industry will become more involved with CSR in the future simply because society expects it.

 

Let’s explore Corporate Social Responsibility…..

 

What is CSR? The World Business Council for Sustainable Development defines CSR as: “the continuing commitment by businesses to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large.”

 

CSR & The Bottom Line: It’s generally known that CSR programs help improve public opinion for companies. But more recent studies show that a company’s involvement in CSR directly affects their bottom line as well. In our 24-7, everything-at-your-fingertips world, clients and consumers are more aware of what their favorite companies are doing to give back. Dollars for CSR initiatives must come from somewhere. So how can you fund your CSR initiatives? Allocate a percentage of your meeting budget to CSR, if that’s possible. If not, consider applying for government or private foundation grants or matching funds. Encourage your vendors and affiliates to join you in your efforts through sponsorship programs.

 

Creating Campaigns: As planners, you’re always looking to get the best from each destination, so isn’t it time to give back to those destinations and local communities? Planning a successful CSR campaign is similar to designing any successful program. If your company has not identified a charity or cause, you have an opportunity to pioneer CSR in your organization through your events and meetings. There are so many ways to incorporate CSR into your meetings, from simple activities such as personalizing and donating Toms shoes for children, to community park beautification. Successful, inspiring CSR programs combine the camaraderie and interaction of traditional team-building events with social consciousness and community benefits.

 

Loyalty: CSR extends your event. Inspiration doesn’t have to end when the program does. The participants can be personally moved to do even more. Giving is inspirational, and generosity is contagious. A well-designed project can contribute a sense of attachment and connection to your event that promotes positive word-of-mouth, market differentiation, new and repeat attendance, and year-round engagement in your brand. It may not be the reason people care about and attend your event, but it makes them a fan of what you do and how you do it. This feeling of social good and connection can help to improve event viability and strengthen brand.

 

Transparency: Transparency has become an expectation of companies today. Integrating sustainability into business models from a ‘good thing to do’ to a legal obligation and has increased demand from stakeholders for transparency and action. Millennials in particular -a group with increasing disposable income- expect the events they attend and brands they purchase from to operate sustainably, ethically and openly. More than 70% of attendees want to see CSR information readily available on websites and social media.

 

Collaboration: Collaboration continues to be key. Most companies understand that a collaborative approach across departments is necessary for CSR success. CSR-centered core values help set milestones and enable businesses to plan and share goals. Senior management and employees need to work together, with the same vision. The smartest companies also know that collaboration outside of the organization is critical.