Sustainability

30 Ways Companies Can Give Back Through Events


Skift Take

Current staff shortages make it more important than ever to keep employees happy in the workplace. Corporate Social Responsibility programs (CSR) have the potential to improve connection between team members and show that companies want to make a difference, and not just make a profit.

As employees return to the workplace after almost two years of the Covid lockdown, many are coming back with a desire to make a difference, not just where they work but in the world around them. Corporate Social Responsibility programs (CSR) are one way to meet that need.

With turnover and attrition at all-time highs, CSR programs can help employees feeling good about working for empathetic, caring companies interested in more than just the bottom line. 

Getting employees involved in doing good with a CSR program does good for all involved but can seem like a daunting task. It can be intimidating to start planning and integrating these strategies into your events.

Maybe you’re new to the idea, or perhaps you’re looking for ways to innovate and evolve. No matter where you are on your journey, this list of the best CSR activities curated by Skift Meetings will give you actionable strategies to begin making moves and put your corporate social responsibility plan into action.

1. The Charity Bike Build

Attendees are divided into teams, and collaborate to assemble bicycles that are donated to local in-need children. The event culminates with the presentation of the bikes to the happy kids. 

This type of event has a social impact on the community. It helps children experience one of the great joys of childhood — owning a bicycle. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice teamwork and collaboration with a positive goal in mind.

Many companies can organize this for an organization, or planners can partner with local children’s organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and boys and girls clubs. A good place to start is the Bikes For Kids Foundation or Build-A-Bike.

2. Create A Mural

Creating a mural is a great way to make a lasting positive contribution to the environment and neighborhood. The artists at Urban Works can design a mural based on your company values, a specific message, or even something based on your attendees’ input. 

The organizers will paint the outline of the mural on the interior of a community center or the exterior of a building and work with attendees to collaboratively paint the mural in a paint-by-numbers fashion. Participants will work side-by-side to create a beautiful permanent reminder of the message and the experience as they build authentic connections with each other and the community they are helping to improve.

3. The Do Good Bus

There are hundreds of worthy causes with the potential to help a destination city. This event brings visibility and accessibility to these causes by connecting attendees with the community as they travel around by bus, stopping at predetermined areas to participate in an activity.

The Do Good Bus is a great way for participants to connect, do good together, and learn about the community they are meeting.

4. Diabetes Cook-off

This team building cooking class teaches participants about nutrition and basic health education while showing the group how to reduce their chances of getting diabetes or managing it if they have it. 

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) can help you organize the event for a donation and for the opportunity to encourage attendees also to make donations. The money generated will help send children with type 1 diabetes to day camp for a week and help newly diagnosed adults get started with type 2 diabetes management.

5. Robot Wars

In this charity team building activity, groups are divided into teams and build actual functioning robots. Once the robots are created, the teams compete on an obstacle course.  

This STEM-based event is a great way to help attendees keep up with the latest technology while developing essential team skills that deliver proven benefits when they return home from the meeting. The participating teams also get to donate one or more robotic kits to a local school’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) program. 

6. Helping Hands

Your participants will be broken into teams and given a box with 30 plastic and metal pieces. Often, they have no idea what the parts are for. As the teams realize what they are building, a sense of responsibility emerges. It is powerful to think that an amputee is going to use this hand you helped build. 

Odyssey Teams is one company that offers a Helping Hands program. With Odyssey’s help, more than 65,000 prosthetic hands have been funded, built, and donated to recipients in more than 80 countries. The chance to leave an event having improved someone else’s life is a powerful takeaway. 

7. The Hospital Heroes Initiative

This team building event is a way to support frontline healthcare staff. Teams pick a local hospital or healthcare facility whose staff they want to support. Then the Hospital Heroes Gift Bags are assembled and filled with items that provide comfort during a long day at the hospital as well as items to help them relax when they get home.

After they assemble the bags, participants write a personal note card as a last touch. The bags are always well received, as a sign of support and appreciation to healthcare workers.

8. Build-a-Wheelchair

This charitable event has attendees assembling and donating new wheelchairs to disabled veterans and others who can’t afford the mobility assistance they need. 

Participants work in teams and use a wide range of skills and teamwork to assemble, test, and decorate the wheelchairs for donation. To complete the Build-a-Wheelchair event, teams compete against each other in an obstacle course maneuverability challenge.

The finished and tested wheelchair is shipped to the charity of choice. When possible, a charity representative will join the program and share information about their organization and the impact your donation will have on the recipients.

9. Picture Perfect

100 Cameras works with worldwide youth  to express their perspectives and tell their stories through a curriculum focused on storytelling and technical photography skills. 

Groups can donate, volunteer, or simply purchase photos. There are also opportunities to have curated photo galleries exhibited at an event, with photos available for purchase. In addition, children who have benefited from the program can attend the event and share their stories with the group.

10. Go Green Racing

In this creative and competitive team-building activity, teams assemble solar-powered toy cars, create vehicles from recycled household products, and make a school STEM donation.

Participants compete against each other by racing their custom toy cars in a single-elimination tournament. The toy cars are then donated to local schools with hand-written notes included from the participants. 

This fast-paced activity reinforces the importance of recycling, alternative energy, and green transportation.

11. Teachers Aids

Crayons to Classrooms offers various programs aimed at providing teachers with the classroom supplies and materials needed for students to thrive.

There are several ways groups can help including assembling journals or creating Pocket Hugs,  small stuffed fabric shapes that can be used by students to calm themselves or provide sensory input to help them concentrate.

12. Operation Backpack

This CSR activity provides school children with the necessary school supplies to succeed. 

The Volunteers of America Operation Backpack organizes an event where participants are invited to fill backpacks with notebooks, pencils, erasers, and other vital school supplies. These backpacks are then donated to local schools, providing a practical way for attendees to help prepare young people for healthy, productive lives.

13. Style Your Souls

This CSR activity involves customizing shoes and donating them to a local children’s organization, with a matching pair donated to children in Africa, Asia, or South America.

Donations of uniquely decorated shoes, as well as the matching pairs, have a lasting and practical impact on the children that receive them. 

This activity is accessible to people of all ages. Participants not only customize their shoes, but they also compete in teams against peers for the best marketing campaign and are awarded prizes for their efforts. 

14. Paws For A Cause

This CSR activity enables participants to help take care of rescued cats, dogs, and rabbits and assist Animal Care Centers in their mission to end animal homelessness.

The organization offers volunteer opportunities for corporate groups where participants visit a shelter to meet the animals and get involved. Groups can also participate in the outreach volunteer program that aims to build awareness and work to recruit more volunteers, fosters, adopters, and donors to help the cause of animal welfare.

This is a practical way to engage groups, particularly animal lovers who are sure to be touched by the work of those caring for the animals.

15. Foodbank Showdown

In this CSR program, participants play a high-energy team building game inspired by the TV show “The Price Is Right.” Teams earn coupons which are then used to buy groceries for families in need.

The experience involves teams testing their knowledge of grocery store staples, a trivia competition, and grocery-themed challenge stations. Care packages created by this activity include groceries and other items that benefit those in need. 

16. Dress for Success

In this CSR activity, participants are encouraged to donate their gently used, nearly new professional attire to the event for a clothes drive that will then be donated to Dress For Success. Participants are also encouraged to make monetary donations.

Dress for Success Phoenix is a nonprofit organization that empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and the development tools needed to help them thrive in work and life.

Implementing this event involves communicating the call for clothes donations and coordinating the collection and delivery of the donations. 

Women who have benefited from the program can attend the event and share their stories with the group. This is sure to have a lasting impact and reinforce the impact donations like this can make.

17. Toys for Tykes

In this CSR activity, groups work together to assemble and decorate toys that are then donated to children in need. 

In this fully facilitated event, groups can assemble a classic Radio Flyer wagon that then gets filled with art projects and easy-to-play musical instruments or they can stuff and dress teddy bears in fun outfits. 

All toys are donated to charities like Boys and Girls Clubs, children’s hospitals, or even local orphanages.

18. Clean the World

The largest global recycler of hotel amenities, Clean the World is a social enterprise dedicated to saving millions of lives worldwide while simultaneously diverting hotel waste from landfills. Through its “ONE Project,” Clean the World provides hygiene kids to relief organizations throughout North America. 

Your organization can help the effort by building hygiene kits that are then distributed to local charities. This CSR activity takes on added importance in a Covid world as getting soap and hand sanitizer to those in need is vital.

19. Hopeful Handbags

In this activity, participants fill new and gently used handbags with essential items, donating the bags to the women who can benefit from them. As participants engage as they fill the bags, they also learn about the equality challenges that women continue to face in and outside of the workplace.

This program raises awareness of the struggles faced by women living in shelters. Hopeful Handbags offers a simple way to combine team building and community involvement. The setup is simple and works best for groups up to 200. 

20. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a global nonprofit that provides affordable housing in 70 countries. The organization offers several different ways for companies to contribute to their mission.

By partnering with Habitat for Humanity, companies and event participants have the opportunity to transform the lives of families and whole communities by helping them secure safe and affordable shelter.

There are many ways to get involved with Habitat for Humanity. The most well-known is participating in the construction of a home. Groups can also volunteer to participate in neighborhood revitalization efforts such as cleaning up parks. Smaller groups can make a difference in the lives of the elderly by participating in the Aging in Place program that provides critical home repairs and modifications for the elder who are living on their own.

The varied activities managed by Habitat for Humanity are fun, easy, and engaging experiences that bring employees outside the walls of the office to build or restore walls that provide shelter for others.

21. Paint, Sip & Inspire

In this hearted program, teams are coached to create paintings or collaborate on murals while enjoying drinks.

Paint Sip & Inspire are the hosts and can charge an activity fee to participate, with the money collected going to a chosen charity. The paintings can also be donated or auctioned off to raise more funds.

This is a versatile event that mixes art, drinks, and fundraising. An element of competition can add to the excitement. Different setups include large canvas paintings or even replicating classic pieces of art depending on the size of the group.

22. Fighting Hunger

A Hunger Fight packing event is a way for companies to give back by helping provide meals for children who need them most.

The organization provides everything companies and teams need to get together, roll up their sleeves, and create nutritious meals. From mixing ingredients to sealing pouches and filling boxes, the program is a great way for a group to make a real impact on local communities.

23. Corporate Olympics

Corporate Olympics brings together teams in a fun-filled competitive environment with alternative team races and sporting events. Points earned by the teams are redeemed for items that are donated to a selected charity.

The program begins with the formation of teams which includes colorful flags and anthems. Following an official torch lighting ceremony, teams compete together in a head-to-head format. A scoreboard tracks the points throughout the day as the energy continues to brim. Fusion Associates can organize and customize the program to suit up to 1,000 participants, both indoors or outdoors.

24. Remember the Original Americans

Truly the forgotten people when it comes to corporate giving, or any charity, creating a CSR activity that benefits Native Americans will resonate with attendees. 

The Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA) works with reservations to provide vital support for thousands of Native American children, Elders, and families living in reservation communities throughout the Northern Plains and Southwestern states. 

Representatives from the organization can speak at your event to tell the story of what life is like on reservations and how donations, at both the corporate and individual level, can make a difference.

25. Beat the Drum

Drumming is a simple way to tap into the power of music to transform, inspire, move, and motivate. A team building drumming session helps to break down barriers and reduces stress.

Drum Works can organize the event and find local schools in the area that would benefit from charitable donations to bring music into the lives of students. 

Professional percussionists can work with almost any sized group. The initial step is to split into groups of 20-30 people to learn the basics. Then, as confidence and ability grow, the smaller teams merge in preparation for the entire group to perform together.

This is a loud and memorable activity where every participant gets to be hands-on and part of the group effort. Participants enjoy gaining confidence in their rhythmical abilities and collaborating with others to drum in unison.

26. This Takes the Cake

Baking can be a great way to connect with colleagues, particularly if you can play the role of a celebrity chef in a competition. Even better, you can donate the best creations to local charities.

The Cooking Academy offers multiple ways to engage in baking and cooking as a team or whole company. They also work with a variety of charities that can benefit from creations and are happy to accept donations from participants.

27. Food Pantry Challenge

In this program, teams compete for points and gather food items to donate to a local food bank. The program also pushes teams to think about challenges faced by those who will benefit from the items.

Fusion Associates hosts this activity by creating a life-sized monopoly board that encourages teams to strategize on their approach and adds an element of chance. Teams compete against each other through a series of customized company trivia questions with creative challenges also part of the game. The setup is flexible and works indoors or outdoors.

This fun activity is great for getting people to collaborate creatively to beat the competition. You can also be link it to a special meal or other food-related activities.

28. Take a Walk

A walkathon, charity walk, or sponsored walk is a simple way to benefit a relevant charity. Participants raise funds by collecting donations or pledges for walking a predetermined distance.

The St. Jude Charity Walk is a good example. It benefits the organization’s work in the treatment of childhood cancer. The organization makes it simple for anyone to organize their event or join an existing charity walk.

Walkathons are similar in format to marathons and cycling races but are of lower intensity. They are ideal for mobilizing broad-based community support and attracting a wide range of  participants.

29. Empowering Women Through Clay

MudGirls Studios is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing opportunities in art and entrepreneurship to economically disadvantaged and at-risk women. They provide art-focused training and skills to transition out of poverty and onto a pathway of self-sufficiency. Through the creation and sale of functional art, women will gain a source of long-term supplemental income. 

Representatives from MudGirls can appear at your events to give lessons in working with clay and display their works for sale. The team can also create place settings or other corporate gifts to distribute at events.

Participants can give working with clay a go while learning about, and contributing to, the organization’s mission.

30. Hole in One

Golf tournaments can have lasting impacts on the lives of veterans. Raising funds through a golf tournament is an excellent way to give back while players enjoy one of their favorite pastimes. 

Wounded Warriors provides a range of tools to organize a successful golf tournament that helps change the lives of veterans and their families.

Be it a simple golf game among friends or a full-on company tournament complete with sponsors, food, and more, this type of CSR activity connects golfers and helps veterans in the wider community.