Designing events that foster exchanges is critical to moving society forward, and always has been. Event professionals are developing rich corporate social responsibility programs that make a difference in the lives of those living in the local cultures we touch with our events. These moments are often the pieces with the emotional power to take your programs to another level and provide a sense of soul which cannot be replicated in any other way.
Why do these event inclusions work? Human beings have a continued drive to support each other. We like to be involved in events which help others through any variety of actions. Those living in developed regions of the world generally know we have a lot of resources at our disposal and will make the time and donate money to any number of causes. We will walk or ride for days, build or renovate houses, playgrounds, community centres or schools, plant gardens and sow seeds or provide materials which will help others help themselves.
So how do you extend this to your event? All communities have areas of need. Whether you are new to including a social impact project or have a long history of including a project, working with your local hosts (corporate office or a chapter of your association) will provide guidance. If you don’t already have a project you support or are going to a new or unfamiliar destination you can work with the Destination Marketing Organization for suggestions. Many destination management companies are also well positioned to provide options and can often do this in a turn-key fashion, coordinating the project, any tools or supplies and suitable space and on-site coordination to make it a smooth process for all. Any of these will happily assist you to thoughtfully find groups in need locally and help you develop a suitable event which maximizes the experience for both community and the event participants. The key is keeping it real.
Should you include a social legacy event in your incentive program? Like everything else, know your participants. Often your highest achievers are also deeply willing to give back in both monetary and non-monetary ways and it may very well enrich their experience. When you are engaged physically or emotionally connected by doing something locally meaningful, your internal reward systems are kicked up a notch. When planning a loyalty reward trip, a careful selection will create new conversations and deeper connections among participants.
Remember, measure and report! Every organization wants to generate a positive impression, and having both quantifiable points, including dollars raised for social impact and the follow-up with how these are used to employ mediums, including event videos showcasing content, team building or community impact projects showing how an event will support future growth or showing the positive economic generation for a hosting community all work to extend the story.
Tell your supporters and stakeholders what happened, what they learned, connections they made and how they contributed. Use the stories and anecdotes to build emotional connections, turning your participants into advocates, and build loyalty through legacy.