Volunteering and community service is an effective way to encourage event attendees to engage with what they’re doing and to engage with one another.
Community service is a great way to encourage attendees to engage with each other and form genuine connections at events. Arranging a community service project for your business event supports corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and gives an event a tangible social component that contributes to the overall experience — while making a meaningful community contribution.
“Hosting a business event is now more than its networking and educational factors–attendees are looking for more,” says Jamie Huckleberry president of the Event Service Professionals Association. “It’s about the overall experience, and volunteerism is a way to give their attendees a chance to do more.”
Planners can coordinate event service professionals, the hotel’s in-house event manager, local convention centers, and visitors’ bureaus to connect with possible short-term volunteer opportunities.
“If the client is unsure as to what volunteer activity to do, the service professional can share what they have seen from other group volunteer activities or their own volunteer activities for employees,” says Huckleberry. “Their event can build off of these experiences.”
Incorporating volunteerism at an event starts at the earliest stages of the planning process. Many convention and visitors bureaus have prepackaged service projects, such as a local food bank that needs help sorting donations or an outdoor area that needs cleaning up.
“It’s important to have these conversations during the site visit,” Huckleberry says. “A service project needs to be a part of the planning process from the beginning to find one that aligns with the event or company’s core values and to provide ample time to promote to attendees what opportunities are available.”
During the site visit, a planner should ask about the unique needs of the city, from school or military support to rebuilding after a natural disaster or act of terrorism. The planner should look out for hands-on opportunities as well as learn which local charities would most benefit from monetary support. How can the event venue partner with the planner to support the project?
Working with your event service professional to incorporate CSR can leave attendees inspired by a worthwhile experience that goes beyond speakers and breakouts.