the right group. Because activities are involved, the fitness level of the group is among
the first things that need to be considered,
according to Conway.
“If it’s an active group, you can go for
manual labor like planting trees,” she said.
“We had a group construct beds for children.
With less active groups, we’ve done things
like install software, pack backpacks with
CSR activities that are related to the
business of the organization also work well,
according to Martini.
“For example, a pharmaceutical group
may want to tie in the activity with a pop-
ulation that fits their product,” she said. “It
might be a children’s hospital or a group
of cancer patients who use their type of
Another strategy is to tie in the CSR activi-
ty to a charitable organization that the client
already has a relationship with, she added.
“It’s important to match the corporate val-
ues and meeting objectives with the end char-
ity,” she said. “Does the organization already
have a history of affiliation with food-related
charities versus children’s charities?”
Other criteria she recommended can
include taking a look at the local needs of the
meeting’s location. Was there a recent disaster
such as a flood or fire in the vicinity that could
benefit from the group’s help? Still another
strategy is to poll the participants about what
type of causes they care most about.
Interaction is Key
What makes CSR most rewarding for participants and beneficiaries alike is interaction, according to planners. Because of this,
hosting the activity at the charity location
can be preferable to having it at the hotel or
“Hosting the activity on-site at the
charity means there will be the chance for
participants to see the smiles on the faces
and experience the impact they are making
by painting a room or constructing a playground that the children can use,” she said.
Interaction also brings in a fun element,
according to Martini, who found this to be
the case during an activity that centered
on donating canned goods to a church-run
school in Puerto Rico.
“We did an event called Cantastic, with
sculptures out of canned goods where kids
from the school were involved from start
to finish,” she said. “They helped with the
design and building of the sculptures, and
there were interactive games involved. If
you can bring the recipients in—and frankly, it’s easier not to—it’s well worth it.”
When planning a CSR activity in an unfamil-
iar destination, particularly one overseas, it’s
crucial to work with a local destination man-
agement company that knows the territory
and the cultural nuances, Conway added.
“It can cost you the entire success of the
program if you don’t use a local DMC to
help organize the event,” she said.
She found this to be the case when organizing an activity that involved donating
supplies to a children’s hospital in Spain.
A local DMC helped avoid making several
mistakes, including not realizing the
amount of government approvals required
for such an undertaking.
“For example, we didn’t know the children
in the hospital were not allowed to be photographed,” she said. “Had the DMC not told us
this, we would have tried to do a group picture.”
The time of year or the time of day of the
CSR activity is another crucial consideration.
Because many charities may be understaffed, it can be difficult for charity reps to
come to the meeting venue at certain times.
If children are to be present at the event,
their schedules need to be considered.
“For example, if you’re doing a
bike-building event, it’s great to have the
children involved so you can see their reaction and even see them riding the bikes,”
Goldstein said. “But the timing has to be
right. You can’t take them out of school or
have it too late in the evening.”
For Nola Conway, president of Global Destinations Marketing, one of her company’s most memorable CSR
programs took place in Phuket, Thailand,
at on orphanage where many children had
lost parents in the 2004 tsunami disaster.
With the aid of a local DMC, Conway and
her team were able to determine that the
orphanage most needed medical supplies,
food, sports equipment, computer software
programs and clothing.
“We worked with a local DMC that was able
to give us a budget of what it would cost to
purchase the items in Thailand rather than
ship them from the U.S.—it turned out to be
much cheaper,” she said. “We took them to the
orphanage and the children were able to join the
group after their school ended. There was a lot of
interaction between the children and the group,
which to me is the key to success with CSR.”
Conway recently organized a program for an
orphanage in Barcelona, Spain, involving an
active group that broke into teams to complete
certain chores for the orphanage. Each team had
a captain who was well versed beforehand on
what needed to be done.
“It was a full day starting with each team
completing a certain task within a period of
time,” she said. “Then there was a lunch
with the children who were not in school and
an afternoon farewell with a group picture.
The participants left feeling very good about
themselves and that they had contributed to a
For Meredith Martini, CEO of Play Works, one
of the most powerful CSR events centered on a
teambuilding approach to creating birthday gift
packages for a children’s shelter.
“We played games in which people earned
the materials they needed to make the gifts,” she
said. “A rep from the children’s shelter came to
talk to the group and told us that some of the kids
had never celebrated a birthday. People reached
into their pockets and started writing checks. The
competition fed into this, with each team upping
the ante on how much they would contribute.”
Afterward, the corporate vice president decid-
ed to match what the team was contributing.
“You can’t plan for this, but when it happens
you see the power of CSR,” she said. “People
really do want to make a difference. Having a
person from the shelter there is what really did it.”
For David Goldstein, creator of opportunities
for TeamBonding, inspiration for a unique CSR
program came from his brother, a clown perform-
er who visits cancer patients who are children.
“We decided to create a new program for
involving a pharmaceutical client and people who
are undergoing cancer and chemotherapy,” he
said. “The pharma company realized that their
office employees never got to hear the success
stories. So we connected them with patients who
were using the drugs that the company provided.”
With TeamBonding’s Operation Cancer Care,
the objective is to have fun while making a
contribution to patients fighting cancer. Groups
compete in a series of zany challenges that in the
end will produce care packages to be delivered
to chemotherapy patients nationwide through the
Hope to Hospitals program or a charity of their
choice. Teams are tested on how well they com-
municate and make decisions under pressure,
and taught how to be creative collaboratively.
“It’s a win-win-win for every person involved,”
Goldstein said. “To end the day, we’ll provide a
short speech from a cancer survivor that makes it