With CEOs highlighting the importance of corporate social responsibility, event professionals are well-positioned to drive the wider business agenda by incorporating CSR within events
Social Impact through Events
According to the 2016 PwC Global CEO Survey, 64% of CEOs say that ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR) is core to their business rather than being a stand-alone program.’ With trust in business increasingly recognised as impacting the bottom line, CSR is one means by which businesses are able to build trust with employees, customers and other key stakeholders. Event organisers are well-positioned to help drive the wider business agenda by looking at ways in which they can incorporate CSR within events to create more engaging customer and client experiences that reinforce brand values and corporate messaging.
Event professionals can help drive the wider business agenda by incorporating CSR
It is for this reason that we introduced a new Corporate Social Responsibility event category for the ICE Awards in 2016. A number of inspiring ideas have emerged as the events industry moves beyond a focus on how it operates in a sustainable way to act as brand ambassadors by making CSR an integral part of corporate events. There are a number of different means by which this can be achieved from showcasing partnerships with charities to supporting social causes through the choice of venue or supplier.
Showcase community partners
One of the best events that I’ve attended recently was a client cocktail reception that brought together many of the corporate sponsor’s charity partners in a themed exhibition which offered a powerful communication platform. Guests were able to meet representatives from around ten different charities, each of whom had created an interactive experience with games, contests and dynamic displays that drove participation and built knowledge of the charity’s activities. Not only were charity partners able to raise their profile, but clients went away with a stronger appreciation for what the company is doing to support the local community and give back to society.
Fundraise for charities
Charities are always keen to find new sources of revenue that enable them to deliver on their social purpose. Companies can amplify the support they give to community partners through dedicated fundraising events or by integrating fundraising activity within existing events. One corporate tennis sponsor incorporated support for its Charity of the Year by running a competition within its hospitality suite. Clients were offered the chance to go head-to-head with a former Wimbledon champion in game of table tennis and the company made a charitable donation for every client win. Client engagement combined with charitable support for a win-win.
Make socially responsible choices
There are other ways to combine Corporate Social Responsibility into your events. Venues such as the House of St. Barnabas in London enable event organisers to give back to society simply by choosing the location to host an event. As a not-for-profit member’s club, the House of St. Barnabas runs an employment academy helping homeless people to gain qualifications, work experience and real job opportunities in the hospitality industry. The club, housed in a historic, Grade I Listed town house in Soho, offers private dining spaces and room hire. Other such venues in London include Coin Street Conference Centre, Toynbee Hall and Central Hall Westminster.
The inclusion of CSR in events reinforces companies’ positive community impact
At a time when many businesses are reviewing meeting and event budgets in the face of increasing scrutiny over expenditure, the inclusion of CSR at events enables companies to reinforce the positive impact they have on the wider community. Event professionals can help their employers create powerful, lasting impressions by thinking about how to tell a broader corporate story through the events they create. To learn more about what companies are doing in this space, read the case study of last year’s winning CSR event [link].