Shows' Sweet Charity

While associations are looking for ways to better manage waste, more trade shows are getting involved with charities (and tax breaks) by donating leftover exhibit materials to the needy. In May, over 50 exhibitors at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas donated demonstration goods worth over $30,000 to a local philanthropy for the disabled called Opportunity Village.

Beth Blake, a spokesperson for the show, says that event management spread the word about the opportunity for donations by dropping flyers in all exhibitor booths. Also, says Blake, organizers "had a desk set up for Opportunity Village in the exhibitor services area where people could talk to the charity and get a little more information about them." Since participating exhibitors would save on return freight charges and take a tax deduction on the donations, the fact that "it's a nice thing to do" just sweetened the deal.

"We think the program was successful enough that we'd probably do it again," Blake says. "It makes good business sense, and the exhibitors are willing to do it."