Incentive Magazine – July 2006
"Winners Choose to Give Back" by Michele Marchetti (link to article online)
Planners at several incentive houses report that they have had clients consider including a community service project in an incentive program, but few have acted on the impulse. While St. Louis-based Maritz Inc. included an outreach project as part of its recent sales conference in New Orleans (see page 31), it has yet to extend such a program to its clients. "We’re open to ideas," says vice president of sales programs Nancy Ogden, "but logistically, it’s very difficult."
To make it easier, Hanover, N.J.-based Impact 4 Good has developed several turnkey teambuilding programs in which participants compete to create products that are later donated–two current projects involve building beehives for Louisiana farmers affected by Hurricane Katrina and solar cookers for use in the developing world. President Ira Almeas is a veteran of the incentive industry, with 20 years’ involvement at performance improvement company Impact Incentives & Meetings. He says that this experience has helped him design programs that will appeal to incentive planners. Projects, which typically take two to four hours, can take place onsite at a hotel or event space and be combined with a lunch or evening event. "It’s time-efficient and cost-efficient," says Almeas. Impact 4 Good has administered 20 programs since refocusing last year.
The company also offers suggestions to planners for ways that they can give even more; for example, by donating a banquet’s leftovers to a food pantry or collecting unused hotel toiletries for local shelters. Almeas says that so far the biggest hurdle he has encountered has been convincing clients that the events won’t detract from the power of the incentive. "We’re not asking [participants] to do anything that will infringe on their reward," he argues. "People naturally feel good about giving back; there’s nothing deeper or more motivating."