Four questions to ask yourself for a successful CSR project

Event planners embed Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects into their events for charitable reasons: to give back without expecting anything in return. However CSR projects that consider only the beneficiary or the donor can fall short of expectations, and be short-lived. So do embed a give-back aspect into your event because you want to create real benefit for others, and ask these questions to ensure it also delivers event and sponsor brand-value.

1. Is it building trust?

It is crucial to show attendees that your CSR efforts are sincere and transparent. Ensure the project is not a burden on their operations and creates a lasting legacy. Take care to execute logistics for the activity mindfully, in a way that aligns with your intention and protects you from becoming the target of criticism. 

2. Does It Engage Participants Beyond the Event?

A brief, event-specific volunteer project can do good things. A CSR project that extends beyond one onsite experience can do great things! This is particularly important to consider if you do multiple events.

Can you choose a cause or a charity that can apply to many events, thereby increasing potential benefit over time? Look for a service objective that is fairly universal–such as improving literacy or health–so it is relevant wherever you go.

Consider aligning with a group that has local chapter networks to achieve your service aims in different locations. Also brainstorm how your project can be socialized during the experience so that the message is amplified beyond your onsite audience. Create a project-specific hashtag for tweets, videos and photos that can be extended if the project is repeated at other events or is part of a broader consumer program.

3. Does It Meaningfully Contribute?

Strategic CSR projects can help elevate your event experience from functional to truly meaningful. This relies on two conditions:

1) making an authentic and real contribution to solving a problem that improves quality of life for beneficiaries and

2) providing feedback to participants about the difference this makes. This feedback loop enhances attendees’ sense of connection to something greater than themselves and your event: the feeling they’ve used their time, skills and involvement in your experience to contribute something worthwhile to the world around them.

This feeling affirms their self-worth and their choice to attend and actively participate in the event and your organization.

4. Does It Result in People Caring About my Event, too?

Achieving real benefit for others through an event CSR project is a top priority, but can the goodwill created also help attach people to your event and brand? Unless the purpose of your event is a cause unto itself, odds are that a CSR project is a footnote to the main event.

But even as a side-show, a well-designed project can contribute a sense of attachment and connection to your event that promotes positive word-of-mouth, market differentiation, new and repeat attendance, and year-round engagement in your brand. It may not be the reason people care about and attend your event, but it makes them a fan of what you do and how you do it. This feeling of social good and connection can help to improve event viability and strengthen brand.

In Conclusion

Most people measure the success of a CSR project by the sparkle it leaves in the air. That lingering warm-fuzzy feeling that is both fleeting and whimsical. But it’s not all magic. When engineered thoughtfully, strategic CSR projects fulfill a real social need while helping attach event participants to each other, your sponsors, your event and your brand.