The star player on the Green Squad might be from an unexpected source. Contrary to popular belief, sustainability has not only to do with the environment, but also planning our events in more socially responsible ways that help sustain the communities in which we live and work.
You've probably seen this aspect in play at big companies around the globe. Many organizations now have annual giving campaigns where employees donate money to a worthwhile charity in a developing county, and the organization often matches the funds raised by its employees. Supporting a charity is an important task for sustainable events too, but why should the charity always be so far away? There are probably plenty of projects in your local area (or in the community where you’re hosting your meeting) that could use support. By supporting a local organization you begin to build a bond between your event and local organizations right in your neighborhood.
Here are two great examples from our own industry:
- IMEX Americax
Every two years, the IMEX America show includes the IMEX Challenge as part of its global event. Together with the host property, Las Vegas Sand Corporation, the 2014 IMEX Challenge will support the Shade Tree Shelter by building a serenity garden for the mothers and children who are residents of the shelter. IMEX attendees are invited to come the weekend before the show an volunteer their time in shifts. Going to IMEX America this year (Oct 14-16)? You can learn more and participate in the Challenge here.
- MPI World Education Congress
In 2013, attendees of the WEC had the opportunity to assist in an impactful program where they built prostheses for landmine victims with amputations. The special feature of this initiative was that it was part the plenary program. While working on the project, participants had the opportunity to network and connect on a deeper level. Together they built more than 1,000 prostheses. Additionally, pouches to hold the prostheses were made, with WEC attendees having the opportunity to write personal messages for the recipients.
A feeling your attendees will never forget
During the planning phase for your next conference, make a commitment from the get-go to include a hands-on event for your attendees to give back to a local charity. Can't find the right fit locally? There are plenty of worthwhile global charities too. GMIC's own 2014 Sustainable Meetings Conference partnered with Stop Hunger Now in April, and attendees came together to package over 3,000 meals in just an hour over the lunch session!
Giving your attendees hands-on opportunities to get engaged and involved in giving back is a win for everyone. The charity you're supporting, of course, benefits. And your meeting attendees go home feeling happier and more fulfilled by really 'getting their hands dirty' than if they had only put some pennies in a jar. Giving feels good!