Providing ways to give back at your event can be a powerful way to engage attendees, as well as help out a good cause, but often planners don't know where to start. However, depending on your audience and your industry, there are lots of ways to help out a charity close to your event community's heart that also brings attendees together in thoughtful and engaging ways.
Whether you're new to giving back at events or are just looking for some new ideas, check out our top six ways to add a charitable engagement opportunity at your next event.
Get Attendees Inspired Through Food & Drink
Nothing brings people together more than sharing a meal! In fact, recently at Aventri headquarters, we worked with a local restaurant who donated free pizza that we sold during lunch for $1 a slice. All proceeds went to our local Light the Night Walk team, which raises money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's fight against blood cancers. This can easily be replicated at larger events and includes the added benefit of working with a local business to provide a local cuisine or specialty.
Bring Your Attendees Together Through Wellness
Many attendees, especially those who travel a lot, love to find ways to stay fit while on the road. It's why so many events host health and fitness activities like meditation, yoga or 5Ks. Why not add a charitable angle to these activities? Along with finding your charity of choice to raise money for, find local fitness instructors to teach for free or businesses to sponsor these events for free publicity. Attendees will love that not only are they participating in something that's good for their health, but that they're able to give back at the same time.
Get the Conversation Going by Going Green
If there's anything better than being more sustainable at events, it's educating attendees about it. I recently wrote about the latest trend in event sustainability, getting rid of single-use plastic straws. Get attendees on board and a part of the conversation by displaying signs with facts about how removing something like straws impacts your event's carbon footprint, as well as affects ocean life. Step up your efforts by offering to donate to an environmental cause or hand out glass or metal straws to attendees who commit to going straw-less throughout your event.
Get the Word Out Via Social Media
Engaging your attendees to give back can be as simple as starting a social media campaign. By using a special hashtag, you can not only track engagement but encourage attendees to share their charitable experience at your event. Let's continue with the straw example. Your campaign can include attendees posting images of their straw-less beverages or having straw-less drinks with fellow attendees. For each time your special hashtag (#AventriGoesStrawless for example) is used, you can commit to donating a few dollars to an environmental charity.
Utilize Mobile App Features & Gamification
Another simple way to get attendees engaged in a good cause is to utilize features already built into your event mobile app. It can be as simple adding a section in your app that makes it easy to donate to and find information about your charity of choice, or sending reminders to donate/participate in a charitable event via push notifications. You can also facilitate your philanthropic efforts via gamification options in your app, like a scavenger hunt or earning badges via event participation. Promise to donate on behalf of those who complete these games or give the highest earners special recognition at the end of your event.
Connect Attendees With the Charity Directly
Another reason to work with local charities is you can invite a representative to speak at or have a booth at your event. Hearing the importance of a good cause directly from the organization itself and/or seeing the impact first-hand can motivate attendees to help and will be a great talking point throughout your event. One popular trend is to bring something interactive. During the first weekend of SXSW, for example, Mars Petcare and Whistle (a pet activity and location tracker) hosted a pop-up dog park, where adoptable dogs from Austin Pets Alive were available for cuddles and walks. For every 10 minutes visitors walk around the block with a shelter dog, Mars Petcare and Whistle donated $100 to local animal shelters.