Teambuilding through volunteerism.
Teambuilding activities can help break up an event while also delighting meeting attendees. This time, why not put a new spin on groupbonding events by including a help-others angle? Volunteerism has been around for ages, as has the pay it forward mentality. When volunteerism is used as a teambuilding opportunity attendees will walk away with a deeper sense of community, appreciation for their own lives and the inspiration to keep on giving.
Another option is to step off event premises by signing the group for a slot at an organization that actually promotes teambuilding through volunteerism. One example is Feed My Starving Children where groups team-up to prepare food boxes in a fun-spirited environment.
Planners interested in looking into other creative teambuilding ideas can visit GoVoluntouring.com, a site built to connect volunteers with opportunities. The site offers thousands of projects in over 100 countries worldwide, including the US. Experiences are diverse and can appeal to groups boasting specific talents, knowledge and interests. The site allows for searches of group interests such as animal lovers and conservation programs, construction-based ventures or undertakings that appeal to various industries such as computing skills and marketing. An interesting local opportunity includes getting involved in the mammoths, camels and llamas, excavation processes at the Mammoth Graveyard in South Dakota.
If meeting attendees have an industry-specific specialty it may be worth the effort to create a project that draws on these strengths. Tech-driven attendees can help non-profit organizations with building websites, marketing or designing brochures. The hospitality industry could take time to deliver pillows and blankets to homeless shelters. Launching a movement based off the expertise of those involved can prove to be especially lucrative as well as a bonding experience. St. Louis-based experiential marketing agency Switch: Liberate Your Brand (www.liberateyourbrand.com) brought volunteer work into the workplace by choosing Animal Protective Association (APA) of Missouri as their honored organization. For the past two years, Switch has used their creative juices to sponsor an “Ugly Holiday Sweater Tees” initiative to raise money for the APA. Switch’s creative designers created www.sweatertee.com with the plan of developing several t-shirt designs to market the sale of the tees around the Christmas holiday. The best news: this volunteer activity boosted camaraderie while generating more than $13,000 for the APA. Meeting planners can learn from this example and brainstorm appropriate ideas for upcoming events. By thinking outside the box meeting planners can design an event that interests attendees while helping others.
Events with a restaurant or food theme can draw on feeding the homeless or assist with food delivery organizations. Ohio’s LifeCare Alliance, the Midwest’s leading provider of Meals-on-Wheels, prepares and delivers 5,000 meals per day. Such organizations can’t be successful without the help of volunteers who take time to deliver food during their lunch hours via the Adopt-a-Route program. A regular route may not be practical for a one-time meeting but checking in with such companies for occasional opportunities may open the doors for fulfilling teambuilding options.
When planning a destination event, conference or meeting keep in mind that many resorts have recognized meeting planners’ needs for teambuilding activities and have programs that can benefit the local community. Fairmont Mayakoba, a resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico partnered with Pack for a Purpose to offer two voluntourism programs that benefit “Save the Children” and “Playa Animal Rescue”. This teambuilding activity involves fundraising or collecting appropriate articles to donate to these programs. Attendees can get hands-on by helping to organize or deliver the supplies in individual kits and help with maintenance work at the community center of Save the Children, like painting and gardening or help with bathing rescue dogs. Meeting planners can also inquire at local resorts for such opportunities.
The beautiful thing about teambuilding through volunteerism is the efforts reach far beyond meeting attendees. Paying it forward is the gift that keeps on giving and it can all start with the next meeting.