Corporate social responsibility has become increasingly important over the past few years. According to 2017 research from Cone Communications, 92 percent of Americans have a more positive image of companies that support social or environmental issues, and 79 percent expect businesses to continue to improve their CSR efforts. In the midst of a pandemic, giving back has become even more essential.
"When there's a CSR component to an event, even if it's virtual, it makes it so much more meaningful," said Katrina Kent, head of events for TD Ameritrade. "It's a way for people to feel engaged and like they're able to do something right now when so many people are hurting. When we're all at home, it feels like what can I do? How can I help? But by participating in a CSR activity, people are able to feel like they're taking action. I think attendees feel empowered by that."
While there are many ways to incorporate CSR opportunities into face-to-face events, planners might be wondering how to do so in a virtual setting. Below are five activities to consider adding to your next digital gathering.
Assemble Care Packages
Cheeriodicals, a hospital gifting company, offers teambuilding activities for events. Those meeting virtually can assemble care packages for healthcare workers, children staying at hospitals or even veterans.
Digital attendees will receive all the supplies needed in the mail pre-event, and can assemble their healthcare hero tote bags and children's boxes simultaneously during a virtual session. The packages, which include tea, snacks, playing cards and more, can be delivered to a healthcare facility of the event organizer's choosing or attendees can opt to deliver their package to those in need locally.
Build Water Filter
Rather than hosting another happy hour, consider organizing a CSR activity where virtual attendees come together to build water filters for those in need. The non-profit organization Wine to Water is dedicated to providing access to clean water in Nepal, the Dominican Republic, Columbia and East Africa.
"At Wine to Water, we really believe in partnership," says founder Doc Hendley in a video on the company's website. "We believe that the only way we're going to solve something as massive as the world's water crisis is to work together with other organizations and groups."
Wine to Water offers filter-building activities that can be completed at face-to-face and digital events. The easy-to-assemble filters can be constructed in 10 steps, but make for a much more meaningful meeting.
Even digital events running on a tight schedule can squeeze in a simple sustainability activity, such as tree planting. Annalisa Ponchia Baccara, director of innovation for the meeting-planning organization AIM Group International, plans to do so for a client event in December.
For this meeting, AIM Group International is partnering with online platform Treedom to plant one tree for each participant. Treedom offers a variety of trees, including cacao, mango and coffee, that can be planted in a host of countries. The trees are planted directly by local farmers and aim to bring about environmental, social and financial change within the community.
"For a very small amount, you can commit to planting trees on behalf of your participants. You can create a link on the conference website where participants log on to select their trees," says Ponchia Baccara. All attendees will receive certificates of their trees and can track how growth over time. "You can choose to plant several trees in several different countries, or you can create a forest in one specific location. The good thing about fruit trees is that they can help create revenue in the area where they are planted."
Meeting planners can also look to add fun, charitable activities into digital gatherings. TD Ameritrade, for example, hosted a drag bingo session during a company event in June.
"We had one of our associate engagement groups pull that event together," said Kent of TD Ameritrade. "We had the event in June during Pride Month and did drag corporate bingo. Everyone had a really great time, and we raised awareness and funds for some LGBTQ+ initiatives."