Laura Chalcraft Sledge

Sledge: Five meaningful ways to give back through events in 2024

Laura Chalcraft, operations director of Sledge, reveals the top five ways that event professionals can give back through events…

A new year: it’s a time to reset, rethink and plan ahead – and for many companies, it’s also an opportunity to bring employees together to set their goals and intentions for the next 12 months.

While the role of the #eventprof has always been key when it comes to developing memorable experiences for consumers, clients, and employees, things are a little different this year.

Given ongoing cost of living increases, global uncertainties being felt throughout the world, and peoples’ changing expectations when it comes to CSR and transparency, it’s important to weave an element of giving throughout events, regardless of their budget, audience, size, sector, or other.

Below I delve into five actionable ways to achieve this.

Focus on organisational alignment

Get under the skin of the client’s brand by taking a deep dive into their values and ethos, and their goals. Then, doing the same from a charitable or non-profit perspective will enable the identification of like minded collaborations. If the client plays in the tech space, for example, perhaps the global non-profit, Women Who Code could be the ideal fit.

Importantly, this level of curiosity and thinking outside the box can foster ongoing partnerships, which are evident across a brand’s entire event portfolio, rather than the one standalone event.

Heighten existing partnerships

If the client has already established relationships with particular charities, aside from logo placements, explore ways to raise awareness of this further.

A shared perspective is always better than one, so this could involve having a representative from the organisation speak at the event, or including information within the event’s app, where guests can easily learn more about the charity or charities and the partnership/s, and also donate to their preferred cause, in lieu of receiving swag (which we know is not ideal from a sustainability perspective) or a “thank you for attending” gift from the event host.

Look to charity-led experiences

Incorporating a hands-on experience, whether that’s within the main event space or outside of it, can educate and inspire attendees, and encourage them to take action from a personal perspective, while also raising awareness of the client’s commitment to giving back.

Examples include cooking classes with organisations such as Cook for Good, where all profits are invested into their community programme, and workshops with a “new year, new me” feel, which are led by charity partner representatives, and cover topics such as managing mental health (which is particularly relevant given it’s January), or budgeting tips.

Consider gifting with a difference

If handing out gifts to attendees is a must, opt for those that are linked to a cause that resonates with the client and their audience.

There are many thoughtful options out there right now. B Corp certified reusable bottle brand, Ocean Bottle, for example, provides a co-branding and engraving service for added personalisation, and for each bottle sold, 11.4kg of plastic is collected from coastal areas, globally. There’s also the option to purchase gifts for the vulnerable through local charity partnerships, and buy virtual presents for our furry friends through Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, among various others.

Opt for purpose-led suppliers

The event industry itself has really doubled down on CSR of late, and from venue and accommodation providers, to catering and furniture companies, there are many suppliers out there who have launched purpose-focused initiatives. Take the time to identify these, and prioritise including them in proposals and pitches, supported by the reasoning behind these selections.

The Hoxton, for example, runs an annual Stay for a Stay initiative, where it partners with a local homeless shelter across each of its sites – including Shelter From The Storm in London. For stays that are booked during particular dates, the company donates the value of a nights’ stay to their partners in each city. It represents a meaningful way to ensure not only attendees, but those in need sleep in comfort.

To conclude, while most organisations will have a CSR policy in place or be aligned with certain charities, we’re the experts when it comes to showcasing this in live environments, and also beyond. Essentially, this means that we must step up and provide recommendations when it comes to infusing events with purpose not only on a one-off basis, but all throughout the year.