Community volunteerism: How to engage your event’s local community by providing a hands-on charity component

Volunteering has become a large component for events these days. Attendees, especially millennials, want to be part of something greater and leave each event with a sense of accomplishment. Not only is incorporating community volunteerism a feel-good opportunity for the attendees, it is a wonderful way to help local charities and create a lasting impact.
Community volunteerism: how to engage your event’s local community by providing a hands-on charity component on-site
Although many different charitable components can be incorporated into our events, partnering with a local community organization and creating a hands-on program where attendees can be fully immersed in the experience will allow them to learn more about the community and organization. Attendees will also see firsthand the impact their contributions have, making the experience much more valuable.

Incorporating such a significant component to your program may sound well on paper, but choosing the right activity for your attendees and planning accordingly will be crucial in determining its success.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a hands-on charitable component for your event:

  • Size of the group: How many attendees do you have and what activity would be suitable for the number of people? If it’s a small group, how can you make their contributions have a high impact? If they are a large group, how can you ensure everyone has a role to play and feels included?
  • Attendee demographics: Who are your attendees and what do they like to do? Are they comfortable getting “dirty” if required, or do they prefer to contribute in more subtle ways? Are they a younger or older crowd? Are there mostly male or female attendees? Depending on the demographics of your group, they may enjoy certain activities more than others.
  • Timing: How much time do you have in your agenda for this activity, and how much time is your group willing to spend? If you only have one hour, you may be limited as to what components you can do. If you have all afternoon, choose something that will keep them engaged for the entire duration of the activity.
  • Season and weather: What time of year is it and what will the temperature be like? Consider the possibility of doing an outdoor activity if the weather is pleasant; otherwise you may have to hold it indoors. If indoors, can your venue accommodate the logistics of hosting the activity on premise?
  • Location: Will your activity take place on-site or off-site? If on-site, will your charity be able to bring the activity to you? Depending on the scale of the activity, you may need to transport several items and equipment onto your venue. If the activity is held off-site, how will you transport your guests to the desired location?

Another factor to consider is that several companies prefer partnering with organizations that align with their corporate values. Keeping in mind all these components will help you in selecting the right organization and/or charitable activity for your event. Many charities are in great need of help, but remember to look for ones that will work best for your group where you can positively affect the community while at the same time having the greatest impact on the attendees.

MPI’s World Education Congress (WEC) is a great example of how large of an impact hands-on charitable activities can have. Every year they partner with one or more organizations in the community where the conference is taking place, and they encourage attendees to participate in the activities. Whether it is assembling hygiene kits for the homeless, building prosthetic hands for amputees, puppy cuddling stations for social therapy, and more, the impact these activities have is considerable.

Community volunteerism and hands-on charitable components go beyond the standard donation or food drive; they bring together attendees and communities alike. These events thoughtfully engage participants and allow them to learn about and relate to the charities and communities they are serving. They become part of something bigger and create a lasting impact for all those involved. So go ahead and try it, the rewards can be unimaginable!

About the author:

Mariella Irivarren is a Corporate Event Manager for a large financial institution in Toronto. In early 2015 she was named “Planner of the Year” by the MPI Toronto Chapter during their annual awards gala and most recently was inducted to the M+IT “Hall of Fame” in the category of “Industry Rising Star” during Incentive Works. An active member of MPI Toronto, Mariella has held leadership positions within the chapter for three consecutive years. She is a passionate individual who loves her career and enjoys mentoring and sharing experiences with other industry professionals and up and comers.

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