Have you ever traveled for work or to a conference and left the city not having seen beyond the meeting room walls? For your next event, consider organizing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity. Local volunteer activities are a great way to get attendees immersed in the meeting location, building relationships and making a positive impact. In Alexandria, Virginia, Volunteer Alexandria helps meeting planners create activities that give back to the local community while leaving attendees feeling good.
Volunteering is fulfilling and can even be life changing, but it can be hard to find the right opportunity, let alone the time. That’s why including a volunteer activity in the schedule for your next event or meeting is a great incentive for attendees. A pre-planned volunteer activity makes giving back easy and fun, and it allows attendees to make the most of their visit. Here are some things to consider when planning a CSR activity.
Choose the Right Activity
The first thing to consider when planning a CSR activity is your organization’s culture. What type of social responsibility programs would most resonate with your organization? If your firm is in the tech industry, an event helping local middle school students learn how to code could be a fit for your participants. Or, your organization may already be aligned with certain nonprofits and charities that are represented at your destination, so think of this as an opportunity to deepen and strengthen your relationship with that nonprofit while also engaging employees in service.
It is also helpful to pick an activity that aligns with the interests of your meeting attendees. You may consider surveying participants prior to the meeting to gauge potential participation in different types of events. For example, would your participants like to enjoy the great outdoors and plant trees at a community park? Or, do they want a short and simple on-site event, such as organizing care packages for service members? Understanding the demographics, time constraints and personalities of your attendees will maximize participation.
Maximize Your Time Together
If your organization has broad social responsibility goals, doing CSR work during an offsite meeting or event is a great way to maximize your time together and really make an impact. Find out if there is a way to get c-suite level interest in the activity and share it throughout your organization and on social media. This gives attendees a way to be recognized for their efforts and celebrates the broader organizational commitment to important causes.
Work Toward a Common Goal
A collaborative spirit is essential for a successful meeting, and there’s no better way to spark that spirit than putting teams together to work toward a common goal. Success and progress on a project or initiative strengthens bonds among the participants. Getting to know one another at this level allows for easier interactions and more meaningful conversations throughout the rest of the meeting. If your meeting involves clients, or prospective customers, considering inviting them to join you. Working together on a CSR initiative drives a level of trust that can be beneficial for future interactions. It’s a win-win for the community and for your organization.
Make it Local
Volunteer Alexandria connects volunteers with nonprofit organizations and can match the size and make up of your meeting attendees with the right type of CSR need. Working with a local organization like Volunteer Alexandria that has a knowledge about the area’s philanthropic landscape and where needs are the greatest will save you time and effort. Plus, adding some local flavor is sure to make the event unique and memorable and gives participants an opportunity to do something they can’t do at home.
Go Beyond Green
Incorporating a CSR element into a meeting or event is more than just about being “green.” It’s about having a positive social impact. Meeting and event planners seek out excellent destinations that are clean, beautiful and safe. Giving back to the communities where meetings and events are held creates a virtuous cycle of return visits and constant improvement.
Insider Tip: From building a vegetable garden to delivering meals to homebound seniors, Volunteer Alexandria can help you plan a CSR activity in Alexandria. To learn more, click here. Not having your meeting in Alexandria? Look into local volunteer organizations who can help make planning a CSR activity easier.
Marion Brunken is executive director of Volunteer Alexandria, a nonprofit organization in Alexandria, Virginia that serves as a link between individual and group volunteers and area nonprofit organizations and City agencies in need of support.
Header image by M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria