How to Include Corporate Social Responsibility In Your Next Meeting or Conference

As part of Forum Group’s ‘Legacy’ blog series we take a look into what it means to be socially responsible via an event platform and we showcase a charity event we delivered in collaboration with our client – Classic Finance. From exploring simple ways to incorporate CSR into your event program, to demonstrating our delivery of the ‘In the Black Ball’ which met key objectives of raising awareness and funds in support of the Human Kind Project and the Barefoot College charities, the team at Forum Group have hands on experience in presenting events that help organisations improve the world in which we live.

So, what is Corporate Social Responsibility and how does it relate to events?

Simply put, CSR is about how companies enhance the world. The concept of CSR has undergone an evolution since its widespread uptake in the 1990’s. Initially focused on environmental sustainability, it has evolved to become inclusive of humanitarian issues and philanthropy. Today, CSR is about balancing fiscal, social, environmental and employer responsibilities.

Top ways to include CSR into your event program

Perhaps your corporate event is not related to a charity or social cause, what are some simple but effective ways to incorporate CSR into your future events? Here we outline some easy to implement suggestions.

  1. Include a donation in the registration fee

As a part of the registration or ticket booking process for your conference or function, why not provide delegates the opportunity to donate an amount to charity or provide a donation to an organisation that can offset their carbon footprint? Alternatively, you could incorporate a donation into the total cost of the registration.

  1. Make a donation rather than provide a corporate gift

Avoid wastage and make a donation to a charity on behalf of the attendee instead of providing a corporate gift. This is a good way to contribute to a local charity, a charity aligned with your event/brand or a sustainability initiative and prevent unwanted items ending up in landfill. From as little as a few dollars per delegate, you can make a considerable difference to a charity or initiative in need.

  1. An environmentally friendly event

Social responsibility is not just limited to donating to charities.  It also applies to the contribution to sustainable development of the economic, social and environmental community.  So you could make an important contribution to the environment by making your next event more environmentally friendly. For some practical ideas on how to reduce your carbon footprint whilst hosting your event – see our blog post from June 2019 on sustainable events.

From having a paperless registration process to energy-saving lighting and recyclable items, there are many ways to make your event more sustainable.

Event in focus: an event rich in CSR practices – In the Black Ball

The ‘In the Black’ Gala Ball was held in Port Stephens at The Anchorage Resort & Spa on 7 September 2018. Held for the fourth consecutive year, Classic Finance sought out Forum Group’s event marketing and management expertise in managing the event from marketing campaigning, concept development, fundraising strategies and on the ground event management. The funds raised from the event were committed to the Human Kind Project (HKP) and the Barefoot College.

Objectives
In less than 3 years, the ‘In the Black’ Gala Ball has raised over $100,000 for projects that helped to fund micro-finance, education and empowerment programs in Africa’s Malawi. In 2018, the aim was to exceed the efforts of the previous years. Funds raised from the evening were donated to support the work of two amazing partners of HKP, being The Hunger Project in Malawi, as well as the Barefoot College which provides education to young girls in rural villages across India.  Further to this, the objective of the Gala event was to raise awareness for the charities and the community needs that they are aiming to address.

Format of the event
The Gala Ball was set up to encompass pre-dinner drinks, canapes and a sit down gala dinner. The evening began with guests watching the sunset on the terrace. We served canapes and champagne on arrival.  Guests were treated to a sumptuous 3 course dinner which comprised of locally sourced produce. We selected Brokenwood and McWilliams Hunter Valley premium wines and Peroni beer to complement the menu.

Forum Group arranged for live music to entertain guests while they were invited to bid on auction prizes or enter the draw to win an amazing raffle giveaway. Guests were invited to wear dazzling black tie / evening wear as the theme and concept for the event was “Diamonds by the Sea”.

Strategic response
Our response to the brief gave the event a wow factor and helped raise much needed funds for the charity. Services included:

  • End-to-end event marketing campaign services. We targeted prospective sponsors, attendees, and donors directly. To track registrations, we set up registration portal via Eventbrite.
  • Strict event budget management; seeking competitive quotes and keeping a close eye on the bottom line.
  • We promoted the event to our own contacts and in combination with the database list from our client.
  • Monitoring and logistics of the donations of prizes for the raffle and the high value auction items.
  • Sourcing and managing third parties including event MC and live entertainment.

Stellar Results
In 2018 the In the Black Gala Ball raised $33,000.  This was a great achievement in support of The Human Kind Project.  The impact of the In the Black Gala Ball and the funds raised for the charities will have an enormous positive impact on the communities in Malawi and India where the funds will be put to good use.

Charity recipient 1: The Hunger Project in Malawi

In Africa, The Hunger Project works to build sustainable community-based programs using the Epicenter Strategy. An epicenter is a dynamic centre of community mobilisation and action, as well as an actual facility built by community members. Through the Epicenter Strategy 15,000-25,000 people are brought together as a cluster of rural villages increasing a community’s ability to collective utilise resources. The Hunger Project funds this strategy and others with the aim to empower local villages and improve the living conditions of those in the community.

Charity Recipient 2: Barefoot College in India

The Barefoot College encourages rural people to gain practical knowledge and skills. Funding from events such as the In the Black Gala Ball go towards funding training of semi-literate villagers as ‘Barefoot Solar Engineers’ (BSEs), to install and maintain solar photovoltaic lighting systems in their communities.

“I now look back at my childhood where I always dreamt of doing something big for my society. My mother laughed at me. Now my family and even the village elders respect me and value my contributions.”  Ritma, a Barefoot Solar Engineer

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