A social impact event is a great way for companies to make a positive difference while strengthening relationships with customers and employees. A thoughtful approach to event strategy can elevate your company’s commitment to its core values – but an inauthentic impact initiative will always fall flat.
If generating long-lasting change from your next social impact event is your goal, strategize with careful intentionality.
1. Align the social impact event with your core values.
Organizing a social impact event is an excellent way to demonstrate a brand’s commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Still, ensuring that the event’s cause and objectives align with your company’s overall mission is essential.
Before you choose your event’s focus, reach out to key stakeholders about the company’s CSR goals. The purpose of a social impact event should ideally reflect the views and concerns of your company’s employees, customers, and investors.
If unsure of your team’s values, consider a company-wide survey. Encourage your team to get involved in the planning process. This open dialogue will help to inspire employees, build community, and ensure that the event reflects the views and concerns of those most impacted by your company’s actions.
Once you understand better what your stakeholders expect from your event, you can set clear event objectives. These objectives will inform your event strategy and help ensure that social impact event efforts support your company’s core values.
2. Choose credible partners – and amplify their voices.
A reputable organization can offer invaluable input and resources to help ensure your impact initiatives are effective and useful to the cause. An unreputable organization may take your money and run. So pick an organization already making substantial waves in whatever cause you’re tackling, and get ready to create a serious impact together!
It also helps to partner with an organization with a reputation for supporting your cause. Your company is a trusted authority in your respective field. Who is the authority for your impact initiative? Research thoroughly and find partners with solid references.
Partner with local organizations when you can. Looking for partners representing the community you hope to be supportive of can be especially beneficial. Community members know what they need and how to distribute resources most effectively, so a designated community representative may be more effective in advising your organization on making an impact.
3. Create an experience that tells a story.
What’s the message you want your event to convey? Once you have found partners and considered what message you want to share, you can find authentic stories that illustrate your message. Authentic storytelling might be the stories of people who have benefited from your chosen impact initiative. It could also mean telling the story of your company’s commitment to social impact.
The results can be transformational if you reveal a story with a sensitive and genuine approach. Think about who the keynote speakers for your event might be, and talk to your event partners about how best to share their stories.
Storytelling goes beyond guest speakers, too. Map the event, considering the elements that could make up the storytelling experience – from graphics to stage lighting and sound. Look for themes and consider how to communicate them with respect and genuine appreciation. And most of all, look to trusted impact partners for a voice of authority on these questions.
4. Be authentic in your social impact event planning.
A successful social impact event should evoke compassion, hope, and other motivating emotional responses from attendees that are authentic to CSR goals. Leadership can put their best foot forward by being confident, committed, and vocal in their impact intentions.
You know why you’re hosting this event. Share your mission. If you’re raising money, share exactly where the donations will go. Be transparent in communicating goals for this impact initiative and what your company has to gain from it. At your core, you’re trying to make a positive impact, and it helps everyone involved if you say that loudly and clearly. One foot in, one foot out reads to audiences as insincere. Standing up for what you actually believe in makes all of the difference.
5. Call the audience to action.
During your event, encourage attendees to get actively involved in the cause. If it’s a fundraising event, make donating easy. Have donation stations with already prepared tablets and computers located around the venue. If you’re hosting an event to raise awareness, use social media channels, email lists, and other marketing tools to point attendees to actionable items. You will help attract more participants, build community, and further increase the impact of your efforts.
Repeat what works (and leave everything else).
After your event, measure the results to understand what worked well and what you could have done better. Whether you’re counting donations, followers, or otherwise, clear metrics will help you refine your approach for future events and ensure that your next initiative has maximum impact. Also, your attendees will likely want to know how much they made a difference! Sharing event results in real-time can help create a sense of collective ownership and improve attendee morale.
Strategize your social impact event with Heroic
Check out a social impact event Heroic worked on, The One Forum, here.