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Prioritize Giving Back

Incorporating philanthropy into meetings and events gets attendees more involved in activities and better connects them with local communities

By Amanda Christensen

When it comes to developing the itinerary for a business event or gathering of colleagues, adding a philanthropic element promotes team building and bonding among attendees, gives back to the resident communities of the host destination, and encourages connection between visitors and locals. And this sort of element can take several forms—from volunteering and donating excess food to givebacks, auctions, and more—making it accessible for all types of events.  

Trash cleanup volunteers through Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust in Washington || Courtesy of Mountains to Sounds Greenway Trust

If you’re looking to emphasize environmental and food conservation in the host city of your event, consider partnering with nonprofits like Denver-based We Don’t Waste to recover and reuse uneaten food and snacks to feed people in need rather than throwing it away. We Don’t Waste will pick up the unused food from event venues and catering companies to redistribute to food pantries, schools, and more. 

Food collection by We Don’t Waste || Courtesy of We Don’t Waste

Consider organizing a giveback by selecting a nonprofit or other philanthropic organization to donate a portion of the event fees to. Marriott International partnered with the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation to donate a joint $550,000 to the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s No Room for Trafficking Fund to provide support and stability to human trafficking survivors. 

Tree planting in Lake Sammamish State Park in Washington || Photo by Steven Smith

Incorporate a volunteer program into the event organization. The Heart O’ Texas Fair & Rodeo held at the Extraco Events Center in Waco attracted more than 230,000 visitors last year, and it took more than 500 volunteers to help manage the logistics. Volunteers not only help lower costs, but they also make an event run more efficiently and provide a strong support system for the event. Or give your attendees a chance to volunteer themselves with day-long activities like tree planting or working on habitat improvement projects at Washington’s Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area.