First things first, what is CSR or Corporate Social Responsibility? CSR is the idea that a company should play a positive role in the community and consider the environmental and social impact of business decisions (online.hbs.edu). It is also an excellent way to foster attendee engagement and build connection.
There are countless ways to incorporate a CSR activity when deciding to move forward with an event in an area devastated by a hurricane. Give back to the community by holding a blood and platelet drive at your event, donate toiletries and food items, even consider asking the hotel or venue if they will contribute. Block an afternoon off in the agenda to gather attendees and volunteer at a local shelter. We often see groups postponed by a year or two when these tragedies hit. The affected communities will still need help that far down the line. In this case, Disaster Response with Habitat for Humanity is a wonderful way to get involved. Get attendees involved and join Habitat’s team of volunteer professionals trained to work in disaster settings while providing field and technical support to affiliates.
“What I love about CSR is you can take half of the day or even an hour, and your people not only feel rewarded, but they can also say they gave back to a great cause"
Senior Project Manager at MGME, Carly Smith, looks back on what she recalls one of the most memorable programs she has managed. A devastating hurricane had happened weeks before kick-off for the corporate event. Without hesitation, Carly and her team knew they had to step in and give back. They planned a CSR program and partnered with Red Cross to build two different types of kits for those affected. Comfort Care Kits included items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, notebooks, books, and children’s games. Recovery Kits included items such as a scrub brush, sponge, masks, wet mops, and disinfectant cleaner. Attendees broke out into small groups to put together these kits, which were shipped out the same day. For an extra sense of togetherness, align your internal statement or opening remarks with the CSR activity taking place.
Contingency planning is a crucial element to all events, but especially those that fall within hurricane season. Here are a few extra steps to always keep in mind:
1. Get Event Insurance
Event Insurance plans offer coverage for damages as well as reimbursement for a meeting or event cancelled due to hurricanes.
2. Don’t Forget a Force Majeure Clause
We cannot stress the importance of a force majeure clause enough when reviewing contracts. This clause is designed to free parties of contractual obligations in the event of natural disasters, disease epidemics, terrorist incidents and other uncontrollable occurrences.
3. Establish a Communication Plan
Consistent updates are extremely important when facing event cancellations due to hurricanes or other extreme weather. Keep attendees and vendors well-informed by providing consistent updates on contingency plan and safety.
4. Delegate Responsibility
With the many stakeholders of an event, it can be easy to lose sight of communication in a high-stress situation like a natural disaster. Assign staff members to contact venues, vendors, clients, and suppliers to ensure that all ground is covered.
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