Last year, fellow Cvent blogger Kevin Yanushefski highlighted the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility in his blog entry focusing on Starwood Hotels and Coca Cola's ground-breaking joint initiative. I have also written about what companies can do to give back to the community during foreign incentive travel. Hunger continues to be a problem in North America, especially in communities in which there have been a lot of lay-offs due to the sluggish economy. When planning corporate events, here are some initiatives that meeting and event planners can consider to help companies give back to the local community.
Surplus Food Donation Programs
Organizations like Feeding America and Forgotten Harvest collect surplus food after events and from caterers for distribution to the hungry. Event planners may find that some clients are reluctant to donate surplus food as they are worried about potential liability. In the USA, The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, offers protection from liability.
Canada's Second Harvest website reassures potential donors that, based on the 1994 Donation of Food Act, organizations donating or distributing fresh food in good faith have no need to fear potential liability.
Launch Virtual Food Drives
Pop-up Free Stores
Once a year, companies can organize a non-perishable food and clothing drive. One idea would be to Invite employees to donate money for grocery store cards and go through their cupboards during spring cleaning to donate gently used clothing and toys. In cooperation with a community center or church in a low income neighborhood, teams can organize and operate a free pop-up store for the community.
Bloomingdale's and DKNY have demonstrated that luxury retailers can use pop-up stores to raise funds to feed the hungry.
Cooking Events That Give Back
Employees can give back to the community and have fun at the same time with cooking team events that prepare food for donation to local shelters or soup kitchens.
Plant Urban Gardens
Community gardens on company property or vacant lots can be a source of free or low-cost fruits and vegetables for low income communities.
For example, 600 employees and retirees from Ford form the Ford Volunteer Corps to plant and cultivate urban gardens as well as gardens at shelters. They also participate in clean-up campaigns at parks and local green spaces.
Potato Fusion is an urban gardening initiative from Vancouver's World in a Garden. It's an excellent example of how companies can produce food for low income countries and neighborhoods.
Vancouver's MonkeyMedia Software is an excellent role model for other organizations. It has participated in community garden cultivation and harvesting. Take a look at this video:
The main mission of corporations is to generate a profit by providing high quality products and services to clients and customers. Corporate events are an ideal opportunity to give back to the communities and countries from which they generate their income.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Kamener, Sown Together
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Image credit: CSRWestAfrica