Social impact projects are becoming a must-have for every type of organization. Experiences & events have already been bringing communities together in a positive way for years, but is that enough & how can we do more? Across the experience industry, event pros are creating innovative & creative answers to that question. Here are some shining examples of companies, ranging from event production, venues, & entertainment, that inspire us to do even more.
Event Production & Planning
Whether it’s a prestigious fundraiser, a charitable auction, a groundbreaking impact conference, or a distinguished environmental awards ceremony, events bring us all together, & there is no better reason to come together than to make a positive difference in the world.
Event production & planning organizations can play an important part in bringing social innovators together to change the world. One organization, Do Good Events, works hard to produce exceptional & impactful events that bring these change-makers together. Do Good Events is a woman-owned event production company headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area. They serve clients from across the United States & have produced events around the world. Unlike other event production companies, Do Good Events only partners with nonprofits, charitable foundations, & other social innovators who are dedicated to making the world a better place. Some of their clients include Habitat for Humanity, the Jane Goodall Institute, & Earthjustice.
While many event production organizations choose to partner with social innovators to make a big impact, other organizations choose to lead in making an impact themselves. The Birthday Project is an event production organization centered in Dallas, Texas whose mission is to bring “joy to children experiencing homelessness through the magic of a birthday celebration.”
The Birthday Project works to make sure that, despite experiencing homelessness, every child can still feel valued & celebrated. The project provides a sense of normalcy to children in a very turbulent & unstable period. To accomplish this mission, the Birthday Project designs & creates the decor & the activities for parties. Then, the Project partners with local homeless shelters, transitional living facilities, & local volunteers called birthday enthusiasts to use these resources to host & throw a birthday party to remember. In the project’s eleven years operating, they have celebrated the birthdays of more than 19 thousand children & teenagers experiencing homelessness across the United States.
Formal Events, conferences, and birthday parties are not the only types of events that can make a big impact. Concerts and music festivals have also been able to make a big impact on their community and environment. The Ultra Music Festival is one of the most renowned electronic music festivals around the world. The upcoming festival next year will feature prominent names like Martin Garrix, ZEDD, & Marshmello.
This epic festival is also well known for its great sustainability initiative called Mission Home which works hard to keep its beautiful outdoor venues pristine. Their initiative has taken every step imaginable to reduce their negative environmental impact. They’ve removed plastic bags from all vendors, and provided easy access to water stations to reduce the use of single-use plastic bottles. They also collect and compost food scraps, donate unused food, materials, and vendor items to the local community, and partner with Clean Vibes, an organization that operates an extensive waste clean-up and recycling effort during the event. Volunteers, called trash talkers, pass their time by disposal bins and chat with attendees to educate guests about proper waste management skills. Ultra Music Festival also works to involve its guests in the Mission Home initiative. Signage throughout the event invites guests to leave no trace and respect wildlife. Through their diligent efforts, Ultra Music Festival has diverted 128,000 pounds of waste, reutilized 22,000 pounds of resources, and reached an estimated 5.5 million individuals with their educational campaigns.
Hotel Venues, & Hospitality
Planning & producing events is not the only way to make a positive impact. So many other elements go into a fantastic event. Each event needs a beautiful venue, delicious food & beverage options, jaw-dropping decorations, & spectacular entertainment. Some venues are creating an impact by using sustainable resources, giving back to their communities, & inviting their guests to make a positive impact in small & large ways.
MGM Resorts’ venues host a huge number of events ranging from small corporate gatherings, extravagant weddings, large family reunions, trade shows, to massive conventions. The company has created an extensive initiative to decrease the negative impact of every aspect of its venues. The international hospitality & entertainment company has taken actions like installing more than 1.4 million LED lights in their venues to reduce energy consumption, creating a massive solar array to transition to renewable energy sources, replacing real grass with artificial turf to reduce wasteful water consumption, purchasing environmentally friendly products throughout their portfolio of venues & resorts, & donating unused quality foods from their events to those in need in the community. MGM Resorts doesn’t stop there. The company also works with event producers who use their spaces to encourage them to create an impactful event. The company has a playing card deck available for producers that lists cost-effective ideas they can implement to create a more sustainable event, they also offer resources to track & report the impact of events to encourage producers to use these more sustainable options.
W Hotels, another global hospitality & venue brand, is also innovating the way hospitality & experience brands can make a difference. As part of the Marriott brand family, the company already participates in the Marriott company’s Serve 360* program. The most unique element of this program is an invitation to their loyalty member guests to donate the monetary value of their accrued rewards points to a curated collection of possible charitable programs. However, W Hotels doesn’t stop there. Their luxurious San Francisco hotel is located in the middle of the energy & buzz of downtown San Francisco & has made daring innovations to create a sustainable & impactful hotel & venue. In 2015, the building was the first building in the United States to be awarded the LEED-EB platinum certification. This certification is the highest rating a building can receive from the US Green Building Council (USGCB) for the building’s sustainable use & management of carbon emissions, energy, water, & waste. The Hotel maintains this certification through a plethora of impactful efforts. The Hotel uses an energy-efficient lighting system, water-efficient showers & sinks, reusable laundry bags, & recyclable clothes hangers to reduce waste. The hotel involves their guests in the conservation efforts by inviting them to conserve water by skipping a thorough daily room cleaning. The hotel has not only aided the environment, but has also aided the local community. The hotel sources at least 60% of the food used in events & throughout regular operations from local sources, they donate all of their worn towels, linens, furniture, guestroom amenities, & more is donated to local charitable organizations, & they sponsor the “Save the Bay” organization working to save the San Francisco bay area wetlands.
Every event needs exceptional options for food & drink. Many creative beverage companies are providing just that & making a difference by dedicating a sizeable portion of their profits to a social or environmental cause.
Rescue Dog Wines creates high-quality, locally sourced, wines with a purpose. Located in Acampo, CA. The company is the combination of a successful business & the passion of its owners to help rescue dogs find homes. 50% of the profits from this company are donated to a variety of different rescue dog organizations.
Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. is a similar company. They produce high-quality, organic, & eco-friendly coffee, drinkware, & apparel with a greater purpose. 20% of all of Grounds & Hounds Coffee’s profits are donated to rescue dog organizations. Through their efforts, they have provided more than 3 million meals & tens of thousands of vaccines & toys to dogs in animal shelters.
In the UK, The Public Spirit is giving liquor a conscience. The company offers “straight up good liquor”2 & for every bottle sold the company is committed to feeding four hungry individuals. Since its beginning in 2020, this small company has partnered with charitable organizations around Manchester, England including The Felix Project, Mustard Tree, & So Let’s Talk to provide 5500 meals.
When you want to send your event over the top, then the best choice is high-quality entertainment.
At Catalyst Arts, we love to elevate events with extravagantly costumed hostesses & a variety of breathtaking live entertainment offerings. We have a collection of animal-themed performers & elements (like body art & 4-legged giraffe stilt walkers), that help ‘bring the wildlife to the party’. Each time these “Party Animals” are booked, we donate the profits to the World Wildlife Foundation. (The World Wildlife Foundation has dedicated millions of dollars to conservation efforts, protected millions of acres of land, & led in saving countless different species around the world.)
This year we have expanded this internal company pledge into an industry-wide impact initiative that invites other event profs to make a giving pledge and then get ‘wildly creative’ to fund that pledge. Here is an Impact project that invites you to join it!
Hidden Worlds Entertainment in Florida is also making a splash through a traveling pop-up dining experience that delivers “impactainment” to their guests. Guests are seated for a dinner experience that uses projection mapping, surround sound, & physical art pieces to create a breathtaking immersive journey through ocean scenes & ecosystems. All dinner offerings are environmentally friendly & responsibly sourced. Hidden Worlds plans to use its immersive spectacle to inspire positive feelings & emotions toward conservation efforts & raise awareness of ocean conservation & ocean positive food consumption, a practice that doesn’t just do less harm to our oceans but instead has a positive impact on the ocean environments through actions like creating protected ocean territories or sourcing seafood from invasive or overpopulated species. The organization also donates a portion of its profits to local & global organizations dedicated to conserving our oceans.
What Can You Do?
Making an impact can be an extensive effort like building a huge solar farm & overhauling infrastructure to operate sustainably, or it can be as simple as helping charitable organizations come together to raise funds, or even directly giving to a cause you are passionate about.
With a seemingly endless number of social & environmental problems, there are endless ways to make a difference in the events & experiences industry.
I suggest that you search for a cause that speaks to you personally & also has a tie-in to your company values or area of work.
I’d like to see a world in which every business has at least one significant impact initiative so that they are a major driving force in the changes that need to happen in order to leave a big impact.
I hope these examples inspire you & get you asking yourself:
What kinds of creative & meaningful impacts can I make?