Incentive Magazine – December 2006
"Root for the Home Team" by A.E. Smith
Coming home this holiday season will be a little sweeter for seven Louisiana families, thanks to one corporate group. The families, who lost their houses to Hurricane Katrina, are the beneficiaries of a new program offered by Impact 4 Good, a corporate teambuilding organizer based in East Hanover, N.J., that specializes in staging community service events.
After Katrina hit in August 2005, Impact 4 Good saw an upsurge in requests from companies wanting to contribute to Habitat for Humanity’s rebuilding efforts and created an activity that could benefit Habitat without the time and effort that construction projects require. “There are many companies that would love to do Habitat, but they might not have the time or the means to transport everybody out to a site,” says Alan Ranzer, Impact’s executive director.
The event can take place in almost any meeting space, for groups from 20 people to 300. Groups are broken into teams, given a list of home items to build-everything from a place to stash the mail to a hook for hanging keys-and a budget to buy materials. “The idea is that when families move into their new homes, they have something to put in them,” says Ranzer. At the end of the timed event, which usually takes two hours in total, the group with the most complete project wins. The price for a turnkey program averages around $60 per attendee.
The events benefit Habitat’s St. Tammany West chapter, which serves a region that lost over 5,000 homes, though the activity can be arranged to assist a group’s local chapter. Impact 4 Good partnered with Bonnie Boyd & Co., a New Orleans-area DMC, to organize an event at the Omni Hotel in November for 70 employees of Red Robin restaurants, part of an annual bonus celebration for its operations team. The group competed in teams of 10 people, and as an added motivation, each team’s table had a photograph of a family who would receive the materials.
The competition was intense. “Someone even snuck up to their room to get a hairdryer to dry the paint faster,” says Ranzer. The winning team earned bonus points for incorporating creative touches into their work, like putting thumbprints and writing the family’s name on items. Each team wrote a letter to their designated family, so there would be mail in the new sorters when the family moved in.
The event made a lasting impression. “I saw people around the hotel afterwards, and they were so fired up about it,” says Ranzer. “They could have built three houses in a day.”