Corporate Social Responsibility is so important to SITE that it’s the first tenet in the just released Bangkok Manifesto which states: “Every stakeholder in the incentive travel community should embrace social responsibility as a core part of their business philosophy and recognize that our business practices and policies will define how that responsibility is exercised.”
CSR is also one of the SITE Crystal Awards categories: “Most Impactful Effort Toward Corporate Social Responsibility as Part of an Incentive Program” which was awarded to CWT Meetings and Events with PRA with a program for the Minnesota-based 3M in Hawaii. Their CSR program took more than 350 volunteers on nine school buses to Ku’ia Farm, where, after a traditional Hawaiian blessing, the teams went to work planting more than 100 trees including coconut and ulu, which bears breadfruit, an important fruit for making everything from pasta to candy. Nearly 2,000 pounds of breadfruit will be distributed free to local community members and school districts for lunch programs annually, for decades to come.
“Our team came from all over the world for a very unique 3M event. And though the trip was short, we wanted to do something that would also leave a positive impact on the community – almost as a legacy for 3M in the area. This trip for us was about recognizing and celebrating the power of a team, and the community event was a perfect way to work collectively to make an impact and help others for years to come,” said 3M’s Strategic Planner, Sara Merrit.
“Where else can you go and actually plant, then know that what you planted will benefit hundreds, if not thousands, of people for decades to come! Truly this was a legacy event,” said Bob Lowell, PRA national sales manager.
Terry Manion, CIS, CITP, Executive Vice President of Meridican Incentive Consultants in Markham, Ontario, says more companies are asking for CSR programs but it’s a gradual increase. “We actually suggest CSR programs a lot because aside from it being a real ‘feel good’ activity, these programs are the best team builders. We’ve built bikes for kids, packaged meals, built playgrounds and renovated schools.
“The CSR program has to fit a company’s brand and also the time they have. If it’s a three-night program they might not have enough time, but if it’s a five nights or more incentive program companies are more open to it. We’ve found that if you do a program in two to three hour shifts, more people will get involved and if anyone wants to do more shifts, they’re welcome to,” says Manion.
To put these programs together, Manion says they’ve worked with New Jersey-based Impact 4 Good for years.
“We had back-to-back programs in Punta Cana where Impact 4 Good put together a program where our client packaged meals of rice and beans for the local community. We created 191,000 meals over three weeks,” Manion said.
Ira Almeas CITE, President, Impact 4 Good, was at the forefront of CSR, working with corporations for the past 15 years on CSR events.
“It’s all about meeting people, the locals and making it unique. We want to create something more than just a teambuilding event. It’s all about ROE, return on emotion and connecting with the community. We also want people to take something back from the culture they’re in. We did a program in Bali at a school for the deaf recently where there was not only a language barrier but also a hearing barrier. They incorporated a religious ceremony in the program where the children worked with our clients who made items that they burn in ceremonies. The experience we gave to our audience is something they would have never done on their own. They learned about the culture and at the same time connected with the people of the community,” said Almeas.