Alan Ranzer Voluntourism and your Meeting

What Are Companies Doing to Give Back and How Can I Get Involved?

August 03, 2007

By Alan Ranzer

Companies are doing all kinds of wonderful programs to give back to amazing causes all around the world. From local partnerships with charities at home to pairing up with charities at a meeting destination, corporations are finding ways for their employees to give back. Here are some interesting programs I’ve learned of recently:

**One company gives its employees the opportunity to have paid time off for up to 40 hours of volunteer work. When the employee meets the 40-hour mark, the company will donate $500 to the charity where the employee worked.
**Another company plans community service days for its employees and then allows employees to make financial donations, which the company will match dollar for dollar, through iGive.

An important point to consider while planning a community service experience is that the program must mesh with the intended participant pool. For example, on an incentive reward trip, I would recommend offering a volunteer program, rather than making it mandatory. Some employees might scoff at the idea of having to sweat for others while on a trip they earned through hard work throughout the previous year. Making it a volunteer opportunity gives the employees that want to take part the opportunity to do so, without causing friction. As another example of matching the program with the participants, I wouldn’t have a group of retirees build a playground in tropical heat!

How do you get involved with volunteer opportunities? There are many avenues. First, find out if your company has a social responsibility division, or a department that handles corporate giving. Often times there is at least one person that deals with that on behalf of the company. Find that person and use him/her as a resource! You might find that your company has a separate foundation established to manage its philanthropic activities. Another option is to call your HR department. They’re there for you. See who/what they know! Additionally, you can call a community service based teambuilding company, such as my own, to find out what unique opportunities are out there. Finally, check out what is happening in your local community by using a service such as Volunteer Match, which lists opportunities, community by community, on its website.

The bottom line is this: there are many people/communities in need out there, and corporations are coming to the table with more than just their checkbooks these days. Your next meeting could be a priceless experience for participants and beneficiaries in the local community alike!

What's so Good About "Give Back" Activities?

August 01, 2007

By Alan Ranzer

As stated in my previous post, corporations act socially responsible more frequently these days. Now, rather than simply announcing at an incentive awards dinner that the company will be writing a check to refurbish an orphanage, they’re getting out to the site of the orphanage and refurbishing it themselves! These types of activities, in which meeting planners are taking time to plan ways to give back to the community while off-site at wonderful destinations around the world, are becoming more and more frequently implemented. The main reason is this: companies no longer want to simply show up at a hotel/resort, have their meeting, pay their bill, and leave. Taking part in a community service activity allows a company to leave something behind; a permanent reminder of their presence and of what was important to them while they were there.

Here is an incomplete list of why these activities are so important:

1) First and foremost, they give back to people/communities/organizations in need.
2) They achieve corporate goals and objectives. Activities that are planned correctly can integrate business objectives central to the reason the group has come together, such as improved communication, cohesiveness, leadership development, brainstorming, etc.
3) A community service activity highlights an important part of a company’s corporate culture.
4) Deep down, people want to give back because they feel good about doing it. A community service project offered by an employer gives employees the opportunity go out and give back without having to source their own cause. Now that’s a company that cares!
5) It looks good for corporation. Community service is great PR.
6) Finally, to steal a catchy line from Mastercard, the feeling of giving back is “priceless”.

Why Are Corporations Doing It?

July 30, 2007

By Alan Ranzer

“Corporate Social Responsibility”, the idea that corporations have an obligation to consider the interests of customers, employees, shareholders, and communities, became quite popular in the 1980s and has only increased since. Today, an incredible amount of corporations have not only put corporate social responsibility (CSR) to work at their company, but they have integrated its tenets into the central cultures of their companies.

Here are some thoughts on why corporations care, and are giving back:

**Increased Sales. Here are some interesting facts: 1) A recent study showed that a majority of Americans (79% polled) consider corporate citizenship when making investment and purchasing decisions. 2) A Deloitte & Touche survey found that 87% of Americans believe it is important for companies to offer volunteer opportunities to their employees. When the consumer talks, corporations listen!

**Customer Loyalty. Another recent study said that 80% of Americans have a more positive image of companies who support a cause they care about. In a time in which many negative images have been driving customer decisions and opinions, smart companies are keeping in mind the fact that it’s important to maintain/promote a positive image to consumers. Community service is one such way to do so.

**Employee Morale and Retention. Think about the last volunteer activity you took part in. Can you recall some of the feelings you experienced that day? Imagine if you could have those same feelings of pride, satisfaction, respect, understanding, warmth, etc. in an opportunity you didn’t have to seek out yourself. In an opportunity that your company offered you, on company time no less! How do you think that would make you feel about your company? Yet another study statistic for you: nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) employees polled at companies with programs that give back feel a strong sense of loyalty to their employers. A teambuilding event that gives back to the community makes participants feel good about themselves and the work they accomplish. Feelings of company loyalty and pride grow when working for a company that cares and wants to make a difference.

Corporations have taken steps away from simply taking out the checkbook. Now, corporations are integrating the needs of communities into their meeting and special events agendas.

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