As a DMO sales professional, you’re heavily invested in developing your travel and tourism economy in a way that benefits your local community, so it’s no wonder when I talk to some of the brightest minds in our industry, you are not only some of the most well-connected people, you are also the most active in supporting charitable efforts in your neighborhoods.
And today, more than ever, are corporations and associations looking for meaningful ways to engage their meeting attendees with the destination by involving them in much needed humanitarian work that you understand from a local’s perspective every day.
So, when an event organizer asks you to give them a short list of potential charitable projects, where does the DMO start?
You know that not all organizations are created equal. There is no one-size-fits-all project. In a recent webinar, Tammi Runzler, Senior Vice President of Sales and Services at Visit Orlando, set out to answer that question. She generously shared some secrets to making the best match between her clients and her community. She always asks both the organizer and your local charities the following five questions to find the right fit:
What are your organization’s values?
You want to find “philosophical fit” between the two organizations. Organizations whose values are mirrored in their CSR project lends greater meaning and tangible benefit to participating attendees. Moreover, project beneficiaries find themselves connected with institutions that also better understand their needs and become part of a like-minded community of supporters.
What is your organization’s structure?
Like anything else, you also want to understand who are the major players in each organization. Understand that the organizer may have to pitch this project to an internal customer, or that someone else may be responsible for executing it.
What is your budget and time parameters?
Again, not all projects are the same, and you can help your client customize projects if you understand what each organization’s strengths and weaknesses are, especially when it comes to what they can and cannot feasibly do, given certain constraints.
How many participants are expected, and what are their limitations?
One of the most important factors at play in a successful CSR project is achieving the optimum level of participation for both organizations, and it’s important to note that some projects require a lot of participants, while others simply cannot. Some involve Herculean displays of physical ability, and others need highly social personalities. Finding the right fit on both fronts will be key to drive both participation and satisfaction.
What are some additional ways to get involved?
Think outside of the box. CSR projects don’t have to be confined to an allotted amount of time, to a fixed amount of people. Help your client think of additional ways to get attendees involved, even if they are not available at the scheduled project time. Can they support those who are in a different way? Or, is there a way to integrate the beneficiary organization into the event?
Last but not least, for the benefit of your meeting professionals, don’t forget to:
- Include a list of, or link to, charitable and community service organizations on your website.
- Highlight any “voluntourism” partners in your destination.
- Include the volunteer site in your site inspection process.
Ultimately, by thoroughly evaluating the needs and qualities of both your community and your clients, you’ll be ever more successful at creating truly meaningful and memorable CSR projects that better serve your DMO mission to support your destination.
Originally published at SocialTables.com.