Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the commitment of companies to contribute to economic development while making people’s lives better is a big deal. Often referred to as the triple bottom line because of its social, environmental, and economic focus, CSR has wended its way into the psyche of companies large and small, and by extension into the events as well. Here’s a rundown of the benefits of using your events for corporate social responsibility and some examples from companies who have actually done it.
Why Blend Corporate Social Responsibility And Events?
While most companies that use events as an extension of their CSR programs do so because they believe it’s just the right thing to do for their attendees and the communities in which the events are held, there are some bonuses:
Media coverage and social media buzz that is both intentionally and organically created around CSR activities improves the reputation of the company.
Sales teams at sales-oriented events get an opportunity to embed themselves with potential customers in a non-threatening environment—sitting across a table packing school supplies for at-risk kids vs. standing face-to-face at a product station.
Employees have the opportunity to show a side of themselves to customers and each other that they don’t normally have a chance to do and they like that.
In a world where it’s difficult to get quality attendees (the event business is getting very competitive these days), letting them know that you are making a huge push to raise money/build a playground/help vets/ bring clean water to Africa can actually differentiate your event from others.
Examples of Corporate Social Responsibility At Corporate Events
As part of its CSR program, Cisco helped the charity Stop Hunger Now package more than 100,000 meals for the hungry during its Cisco Live Event in 2015. This year, the company, determined to break its previous record, held the activation again. In addition to assembling meals, the company game attendees the opportunity to build hygiene kits for the impoverished through nonprofit Clean The World. The kits were distributed to those in need in the Las Vegas area where the meeting was held.
Oracle OpenWorld is on a mission “to host the most sustainable conference in the world.” The Sustainable Event Report, which the firm issued based on its 2015 conference, outlined a number of goals for the event: promote zero waste to landfill from the conference by 2018, reduce 2012 onsite emissions by 50% by 2018, give back to local charities, and inspire attendees to adopt their own CSR postures. OpenWorld follows a process outlined by ISO 20121: 2012 Event Sustainability Management Systems.
Dreamforce, the mega-annual conference of Salesforce.com, raised $3 million for (RED) to help end AIDS forever and another $10 million for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. Attendees packed 2,000 early STEM education kits, assembled 2,000 Food=Medicine bags for Project Open Hand, and helped young female entrepreneurs launch a lemonade stand on Salesforce. Organizers also asked participants to join the #PledgeitForward giving movement; invited local students to code, make, and tour the campus; and aided by employees calling themselves the Green Angels, showed attendees how to sort food waste and conserve water.
Corporate Social Responsibility At Events Will Grow
Government and private citizens can only do so much. Corporations, bolstered by the many economic and feel-good benefits, have the incentive and the motivation to implement CSR programs and extend them through their conferences and events. The event industry has long supported green meetings and CSR opportunities and with the incoming millennial population, it will likely do even more to push the CSR envelope. At the end of the day, corporate event marketers realize that doing good is good business, but it also just feels good.