At the 2018 FICP Annual Conference, attendees had a chance to engage in a CSR activity organized by Wildly Different. We sat down with Katie Karmowski, a member of the FICP Annual Conference Event Team, and Lisa Jennings, Chief Experience Officer at Wildly Different, to learn more about the activity and the process for incorporating CSR activities at meetings and events.
Why was a CSR project incorporated into this year’s event? How would you describe the one FICP went with, and why was that the right fit for our group?
Katie Karmowski: The Annual Conference Event Team was open to thinking outside the box and trying something new. So, instead of offering The Network – Live, a 2.5-hour tradeshow, we were tasked with coming up with new networking ideas, one of which ended up being the CSR activity. When we built out the schedule of events, we set aside a block of time for this function, but initially we weren’t sure what it was going to look like. We were open to CSR activities, teambuilding activities and scavenger hunts. So, we sent out an RFP and received a number of options for the team to sort through. The Red Wagon Brigade by Wildly Different really stood out to the group because it offered teambuilding and had a CSR component. FICP members and hospitality partners are competitive individuals, so splitting the group into competing teams, while also being able to give back to the local community, made the event well-rounded and it was well-received.
How far in advance did you start planning for the CSR program? What might other planners want to keep in mind when adding one to their event?
Katie: The RFP was distributed in the spring. Wildly Different, the company we partnered with, joined a call with our Event Team in June, and then developed a custom proposal based on the group’s feedback. By the end of summer, we had our plan!
When planning a CSR Activity, it helps to keep budget in mind. Depending on the size of your group, the expenses can add up quickly. You also want to make sure the event is properly staffed. When you have a large group, it’s important to have enough staff on hand to help keep the groups focused and on track. We had 1:3 ratio of Wildly Different staff per table at our event, which worked really well.
What elements of the program resonated most with the attendees? Why do you think this section stood out?
Katie: Our donations benefitted three Orlando-based charities: United Against Poverty, Orlando Health – Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida. We had a representative from each of the three charities speak to the group from the mainstage. They gave an overview of their organization and explained how our donation was going to benefit them. I think hearing from each of these organizations really made it hit home for our attendees. And tying the Silent Auction proceeds into the donation made it all come full circle.
Lisa Jennings: The fact that participants got to connect with one another, their inner child, AND with the charity made this activity stand out. Participants got to bond while deciding on a theme and decorating red wagons. And, they got to play a variety of games that revolved around the toys they won with those points to fill up the wagons. For instance, they answered questions about song bytes that mentioned toys, answered toy trivia, and competed in physical challenges such as bouncing balloons around in the air, turning the room into a spectacle of color. In the end, learning how the donations would help kids - not only as toys, but also knowing that some wagons would be used by the hospital to transport kids to treatment rooms instead of scary gurneys – really resonated with the group.
What is an example of a way CSR programs have been customized to the group you are working with?
Lisa: The whole reason we are named Wildly Different is that we love to customize programs for our clients! We’ve designed entire programs to work in clients' branding and messaging, as well as put the spotlight on a charity that is near and dear to their hearts. For instance, we have a tabletop Escape Room experience where hundreds of people race to break into a locked box – instead of out of a locked room to release donations for a charity before time is up. In order to solve the clues, teams may have to utilize information about their company and/or the chosen charity, as well as props that tie into their meeting theme.
Learn more about how you can implement CSR activities at your next meeting or event with these resources:
Events Senior Manager
Chief Experience Officer