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.

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

New Sustainable Event Management – Forum Group’s Guide to Green Meetings

Welcome to Forum Group’s ‘Legacy’ blog series. Inspired by positive trending requirements to create events that are sustainable, socially responsible as well as high impact, we set out to provide a practical insight on creating events that are truly rewarding.

For years marketers and corporate planners have been put off delivering sustainable events as this implied additional, significant costs for an event budget. Here we break down the myths surrounding sustainable events and provide practical strategies to delivering green solutions.

Let’s transform your meetings to make a real difference and help you take advantage of our experience delivering green events.

So, what constitutes Sustainable Event Management? 

According to international standard ISO 20121, sustainable event management is the process of integrating environmental and social responsibility issues into event planning. Sustainable event management requires us to balance the needs and values of different stakeholders that are impacted by your event. On the one hand, you take steps to reduce significant negative impacts, or harm, such as waste products or carbon emissions. While on the other hand you also seek out opportunities for events to leave positive legacies that benefit communities, including philanthropic and volunteer projects. Let’s take a look at the benefits of sustainable events for your main stakeholder groups.

Stakeholder 1: Event attendee

Convenience: Sustainable events can be more convenient because they adapt technologies to help attendees get outcomes more efficiently, for instance through mobile apps and multi -channel hybrid events (e.g. webinars and face to face programs).

Rewarding: Sustainable events can be satisfying and interesting because they make it worth attending in person because the planner has taken steps to connect participants to a destination or the program in a meaningful way, perhaps through the authentic cuisine, local entertainment or a community service project.

Social consciousness: This matters to a large proportion of your current or potential attendees. If you can’t meet this expectation, they may be less likely to come along or to return to future events.

Stakeholder 2: Event Organiser

Increases goodwill towards your brand: Sustainable events can reduce risk from a planner’s perspective because you’re proactively anticipating the effect of your event on the environment, hence, creating a green meeting could help avoid wasteful representations of your brand to attendees, which might be adversely reviewed in the post event media.

Better for the bottom line: Making your events environmentally friendly benefits the environment but can also save money for your business or event budget. By implementing simple changes, it can make a difference to your bottom line.

E.g. accurate, seasonal and locally sourced food and beverage planning and design-for-reuse branding.

Unique Selling Proposition: Promoting your environmentally friendly methods can set your event apart from your competitors and attract new attendees who buy into your approach.

Attracting Revenue: By planning greener events you could increase your chances of investment from sponsors when you meet their CSR objectives or procurement criteria.

Stakeholder 3: Sponsors and Supporters

Increases goodwill towards your brand: Supporting and funding sustainable events can not only reduce risk from a sponsor’s perspective because you’re supporting events that are actively aiming to reduce their effect on the environment, but you are also helping attendees and other stakeholders make a connection between acts of sustainability, corporate social responsibility and your brand. Your support of the event and the way it links to sustainable approaches will be noted in the marketing material produce prior to the event, onsite and in the media following the event.

What do we know about waste generated at events?

On average, a single guest discards 1.89 kg of waste per day, of which 1.16 kg is landfill materials. To put this into perspective, that’s the equivalent of 2.6 (or 3480 kg) weight of compact cars for a 3-day 1000 person event going to landfill each time.

What we can do to reduce our carbon footprint at events?

Depending on your event type, your carbon footprint can vary. A local conference will have far fewer air travelling attendees, but car or train journeys could be most highly represented. Our suggested ways to reduce carbon footprint include:

  1. Providing remote or virtual event program for attendees.
  2. Choose an event location central to most attendees and participants to reduce the overall travel for most delegates.
  3. Select venues and hotels with strong green initiatives and programs in place.
  4. Why not consider incentivising carpooling for attendees?

Reduce Your Landfill Slice

The biggest problem is that approximately 41% event waste will go to landfill. We suggest ways to reduce this percentage by:

  • Selecting a destination, venue and caterers with good recycling and composting programs.
  • Provide waste stations, signs and monitors to help exhibitors and attendees sort their waste.
  • Take advantage of and improve donation programs particularly for food and exhibitor materials.

Reuse Wherever Possible

Re-purposing and up-cycling are big trends right now which should help with these initiatives. Ensure that when you are considering different elements you are thinking about their longevity and ability to be reused in the future.

Our team suggests we reduce, reuse, recycle:

  • Recycle plastic bags. They can be the bane of our planet but initiatives with supermarkets are meaning higher quality options are available that can be reused.
  • Reuse non-personalised items. You can reuse lanyards, badge holders, ribbons, signage holders, furniture and other materials so long as we avoid personalising them during an event.
  • Design your own food stations from an up-cycled piece of furniture, or repaint worn props to spruce new life into them. Our event managers have often hand crafted props and other event decor from re-purposed materials!
  • Keep signage generic. Use phrases such as “this way” or simply use arrows that can be used in any event rather than themed phrases or ideas.
  • You can use fancy chalk artistry that allows you to change the message without discarding the sign.
  • Recyclable materials. Whenever possible use signs that can be reused or portions of them that can be recycled or even make them yourself by up-cycling some old shelves into a rustic wooden sign.
  • Use biodegradable materials for items such as cutlery and plates.
  • Clearly label. Don’t assume that all attendees will know what to do with their recycling. Add cool graphics with examples of what goes where to help them out and avoid any confusion which saves resorting later.
  • Offer an incentive such as freebies or digital swag if attendees bring their recycling to you and sort it accordingly.

Extend Your Event Legacy

Share your success with the world and the people you serve. Let them know what you’ve waste you have reduced, what savings this represents, and how you will be using the difference. People want to share in your incredible moment. It may feel a little self-serving to demonstrate your sustainability success, remember you are modelling what can be achieved in this space and this will in turn inspire others.

How to spread the word about your green initiatives:

  • Post local initiatives you are working with on social media which not only markets yourself but raises awareness for the cause.
  • Include green symbols and compliance logos on marketing materials to be validated.
  • Link your posts back to your green policy to demonstrate how your practice is tied into an official approach.
  • Work with sponsors and partners to promote your shared initiatives to widen reach.

Forum Group Makes a Big Impact Taking Home Two MEA Awards

Forum Group Events & Marketing has taken out top honours at the prestigious Meetings and Events Australia’s (MEA) national awards with the agency winning two accolades including ‘Corporate Event of the Year’ and ‘Event Manager of the Year – Agency’.

Forum Group, an Australian integrated events and marketing agency, has delivered engaging events and business results for their clients for over 20 years. Their team and network create end-to-end marketing experiences for a diverse client base including South African Tourism’s 5-city roadshow which was selected by an independent panel of judges as the MEA Corporate Event of the Year. The award was accepted by Director, Lauren Hayward at the awards gala held on 2nd April at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Stephanie Vercoe, one of Forum Group’s most experienced event professionals was announced as MEA’s Event Manager of the Year – Agency. Stephanie is renowned for her dedication and creativity when delivering integrated event campaigns such as the Department of Industry’s NSW Training Awards, Citrix 8-City Roadshow and Dell EMC Tech Summit.

Lauren Hayward, Director, said, ‘To win two national awards is a wonderful recognition of our team’s efforts and the immense passion and energy that they have poured into showcasing our client’s brands via their chosen event platforms.  The last 12 months have seen the Forum Group team extend ourselves professionally as we maximised local and global partnerships further refining our ‘hub of connection’ approach to delivering events. Our clients benefit from our hub which includes exceptional partners, suppliers, our processes, technological resources as well as our experienced in-house team of event professionals.”

Forum Group was presented with the top awards in addition to being selected as a national finalist for ‘Government Event of the Year’ for the Department of Industry’s NSW Training Awards. The awards come off the back of a year of innovative, stand-out event work for clients as well as new business wins, including securing Infomedia Tech Day, RegTech Conference and In the Black Gala Ball.







Forum Group Events has been awarded twice over by Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) at the recent NSW awards night. The events marketing and management organisation overcame strong competition to take home the accolades for ‘Best Event Management Organisation’ and ‘Meetings & Events Management Organisation (less than 8 employees)’.


Managing Director, Leanne Constantino, was thrilled to accept the MEA awards recognising the company’s outstanding provision of services to the Australian conference, meetings and events industry, saying the announcements were welcome recognition of the dedication of Forum Group Event’s team.


State award win 2016


“The Forum Group Events team is extremely delighted to receive these MEA awards at state level. Our team takes pride in providing our loyal clients memorable events that connect, educate and inspire their delegates. Our focus remains on delivering innovative events and marketing and execution solutions whilst providing outstanding customer service. We could not have achieved these accolades without the dedication from our entire team.” said Constantino.


The ‘Event Management Organisation’ and ‘Meetings & Events Management Organisation (less than 8 employees)’ categories, reviewed the impact and efficacy of event management companies over the previous year. The categories were judged on a number of criteria, including business planning and management, marketing strategy, resource management, creativity and innovation, financial performance, contribution to the industry as well as the overall uniqueness of the company.


Forum Group Events are now finalists for the National MEA awards dinner to be held at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC) on Tuesday 2nd May 2017.


Trusted by global Fortune 500 companies for over 20 years, Forum Group Events is a multi award-winning integrated events marketing and management organisation.


Forum Group Events has a national network alliance of innovative professionals that strive to deliver world-class events. We create end-to-end marketing experiences that connect, educate and inspire whilst driving business results for a diverse range of clients.


Our integrated campaign approach offers a complete solution to meet event and marketing objectives. The FGE team excels at event strategy, event management, event promotion, audience acquisition and extending the life of an event whilst always maximizing ROI.

For enquiries:

Lauren Hayward

General Manager

Forum Group Events

Tel:  02 8302 5523