Innovative corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs can generate esprit de corp for attendees while providing an excellent opportunity to give back. Here are a few from BENCHMARK® to inspire your next meeting.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a big part of the business world in the last decade. In addition to helping establish a positive brand image and reputation, it’s also now an essential tool for companies to attract and retain top talent.
And naturally, that means that companies and organizations must also weave CSR programs into their conference agendas. That’s because giving back to the community you’re meeting in is quickly becoming an attendee expectation.
But CSR programs don’t have to be as bland (but still worthy!) as cleaning up a green space the morning before the keynote or donating leftover food to a local food bank. In fact, a good CSR program can find creative ways to do good, while also incorporating a little bit of team-building or allowing attendees to immerse themselves in the destination where they are staying. Here are a few ideas to inspire your next meeting from Benchmark properties and destinations.
A Hole in One
An afternoon spent on the links has always been a popular way for colleagues to network and bond during an incentive program or conference. And while you can certainly do just that on the two par-72 golf courses at Lansdowne Resort and Spa, the hotel also helps create a mini-version that allows everyone (regardless of golfing skill) to get involved in a meaningful way. Called “Charity Putt-Putt,” the group is tasked with purchasing a slew of nonperishable packaged goods, then constructing their own unique miniature golf course using only the purchased goods as boundaries, hazards, and holes. After everyone plays a round, all goods are donated to a local food pantry or charity of the group’s choice.
Mission Military Support
Colorado Springs is home to a large military population, so the Garden of the Gods Resort and Club honors that by working with groups to organize a care package–making session for troops abroad that also doubles as a team-bonding activity. Not only is the team tasked with purchasing the items requested by servicemen and women in the field – necessities such as sunblock, socks, and lip balm; nonperishable snacks like chips, nuts, jerky, and trail mix; and games like playing cards, crosswords, or puzzle books – but they package them, decorating them with messages of inspiration and encouragement. The result is a program that mixes CSR and a little bit of creativity.
Cook-off challenges – where groups are segmented into teams, given a mystery box of the same ingredients, then tasked with creating the most unique dishes – top the list of popular team-building activities. But at The Inn at Virginia Tech, you can take that to the next level by incorporating a CSR aspect. Here’s how it works: On the first night, groups compete in the cook-off, with the aid of the inn’s executive chef. Once each team’s dish is served to the panel of judges (other staff on the culinary team), a winning dish is selected. But it doesn’t end there. On a subsequent night, the entire group – no longer divided into teams – prepares the same winning dish as the main entrée for 35 to 40 people at The Ronald McDonald House of Southwest Virginia, an 18-room “home away from home” in Roanoke for families traveling to the region for medical treatment. Part of the house’s volunteer-supported Meals from the Heart program, the home-cooked meal is just what guests crave, especially after a long day at the hospital…and conference attendees value more than bragging rights.
Eaglewood Resort & Spa regularly partners with Windy City Fieldhouse, a Chicago-based team-building and entertainment company, to provide groups and corporate planners with a variety of memorable interactive events. This includes large company-wide exercises (think summer outings or scavenger hunts) to smaller Cake Boss–style challenges. But they also offer several unique charitable programs to pick from, including one called “Operation Backpack.” Essentially, participants compete in team-building activities to earn school supplies and backpacks. Once they earn all supplies, they fill the backpacks to be donated to a local school. Give back to the local community? Check. Boost morale and camaraderie among the team? Check, check.