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| Written by Jill Pearson

Creating a Lasting Impact — Corporate Responsibility Best Practices

The CSR trend of giving back during events continues to remain strong as younger generations are very connected to sustainability programs, especially ones that impact local communities. With that in mind, organizations are partnering with local charities within communities where events are being hosted to deliver shared experiences such as cuddling with foster puppies, supporting charitable organizations, or hosting a CSR or sustainability activity with attendees as stand-alone sessions.

Five years ago, M&IW’s Global Give Back initiative was brought to life by the philanthropic passions of our Co-CEO, Jean Johnson. We kicked off our first initiative through a CSR activity at our yearly all company event, the M&IW Summit. From that moment, it has taken on a life of its own and grown to be an integral part of M&IW’s culture and value system. 

By sharing how our Global Give Back initiative has grown over the five years, we hope to illustrate how to replicate it for your own organization.


How to Jumpstart your CSR Initiative

Kicking off your CSR initiative at a company event is a great way to jumpstart your program. It becomes very streamlined when marketing, human resources, and leadership can work together to spearhead the activity and give back focus. 

At M&IW, our Manager of Recruiting and Training, Kristie Rogers, partners with our Co-CEO Jean Johnson, to build a CSR program that will last all year. The process starts with ideas noted throughout the previous year, whether from a TED talk, social media, through a client event or industry partner. They then take into consideration our annual event theme to discover how it ties together with other business objectives. When the final CSR choice has been made, we reach out to our professional activity and CSR partner, Corporate Event Interactive (CEI), to bring the initiative to life. 

Partnering with Professionals

Even when we have a team of event professionals putting together the details of the CSR, M&IW still relies on the professionals to make it the best it can be.

Our partner, CEI, enhances the experience by offering unique ideas, theming related props, and technology enhancements which really bring the concept to life during an event. Better ideas and greater impact are realized when working with an experienced partner. Plus, a professional can help you design an activity around the CSR of your choice that aligns with your business objectives.

“The most popular CSR events often include a friendly competition or adventure and an appearance from the charity partner” explains Linda Whitlock, President of Corporate Event Interactive Chicago. “Often, the most meaningful part of a CSR event is when a representative from the charity comes to share stories and firsthand experiences tying the program together and leaving a memorable impression on the guests/attendees.” 

Staying Top-of-Mind

Many attendees want their CSR efforts to have a lasting effect beyond the actual event.

By way of example, after M&IW kicks off its initiative, the M&IW team keeps the momentum going with monthly emails outlining that month’s focus, showcasing our progress in our global initiatives. Many wait eagerly each month for these exciting updates and to see how their efforts are continuing to impact the community.

Focusing on the Environment

M&IW selected environmental responsibility for this year’s challenge with a heavy focus on sustainability. Our goal started at our annual event by helping the mason bees and providing more than 46 mason bee houses that were distributed throughout Wisconsin. This activity was not only a meaningful and motivational start to a company initiative, but it was also part of a larger sustainability effort for M&IW.

Rising to the Challenge

To further enhance the message, M&IW challenged its employees each month with a “sustainable mission.” One example includes challenging employees to forego the use of single-use plastic straws and plastic grocery bags while encouraging them to purchase products (paper towel, toilet paper, tissues) that are made from 100% recycled materials or fast-growing sugar cane and bamboo. Another example is to motivate employees to use recyclable paper or reusable bags when wrapping holiday gifts. 

When our program management team was brought into the vision, the initiative started to go viral. One of M&IW’s Sr. Program Managers, Catrina Sneva, is spearheading the environmental initiative with our global program management teams. Catrina recently presented her concept to our Strategic Account Management Team and provided ways to bring more sustainability to our programs1.

Sharing With Your Community

M&IW’s sustainability initiative has even touched our annual holiday gift by spreading cheer, hope, and sustainability this holiday season. With a donation and with heartfelt gratitude, we have planted trees, through a wonderful company called A Living Tribute2, in honor of our clients and partners. We hope you will join us in this initiative and stay tuned for updates on our progress. 

Bringing It All Together

While it was once was a nice addition to have CSR activities at events, it is now an attendee expectation. Incorporating a CSR component gives meeting attendees the opportunity to get out of the meeting room, build relationships with each other and give back to the local community. CSRs can help boost a company’s ‘triple bottom line’ – social, environmental and financial performance. In today’s media climate, customers, clients and employees are paying more attention to a company’s integrity and culture.  In addition to fostering a positive corporate image, CSRs also promote company loyalty amongst employees and customers. A win for everyone!

  1. Catrina’s passion for sustainability dates back to her early days as a child. Her parents were in the catering business and she has had a lifetime of seeing the waste that can occur at events. You can learn more about Catrina’s suggest solutions in our upcoming Webinar, Extending the Reach of Your Sustainability Program: https://go.meetings-incentives.com/l/136431/2019-12-10/5y6fkz
  2. Link to A Living Tribute – https://shop.alivingtribute.org/collections/a-living-tribute/products/plant-a-tree-holiday-card