BrainTrust Query: Companies Party with a Purpose

Discussion
Nov 14, 2011
Doug Fleener

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Retail Contrarian, the blog of the Dynamic Experiences Group.

Recently, one of our clients announced to their employees that the traditional holiday party will not be held this year. The employees were very disappointed. The annual event has long been a high point of the year because it brought families together for an evening of food, drinks and socializing.

The disappointment turned to excitement when the owner announced that the holiday party hadn’t been completely cancelled, but would be replaced by a smaller scale event that will enable people to give back to their community.

The company is giving each employee a gift card to use to purchase holiday gifts for children in need. The employees, along with their families, will bring their purchases to a gift-wrapping party held over consecutive nights at the company’s office. The party will be catered and is shaping up to be a wonderful evening.

I love it!

It’s a holiday party with a purpose. Employees are still recognized for their contribution to the company, but at the same time the organization is able to give something to their community. It’s a win/win that makes a difference, and in this particular instance it could spell the difference between a child having a present under the tree or not.

It’s a great reminder of the opportunities retailers have to touch lives in their communities. Also, don’t underestimate the impact this has on both employees and customers.

Here are a few more suggestions for ways to add more purpose to holiday parties and events:

  • Donate a gift or make a contribution for every customer who shows up at a VIP or Wishlist event. This gesture could be the tipping point for a customer who is undecided about whether to attend or not.
  • Ask customers to bring a gift or canned goods as the price of admission for an event. Even better, match the donation.
  • Offer a gift card or discount for bringing in a gift or canned goods. This is a great way to start the sale. It’s up to you and your team to finish it.
  • Let customers vote on Facebook and/or in the store for your holiday charity.
  • Partner with a local shelter or charity to create a Wishlist tree. Customers can purchase an ornament that helps a particular person or family in need, and those customers are invited to an exclusive evening or weekend holiday event.

Discussion Questions: What are your recommendations for making company gatherings around the holidays more effective from a team-building standpoint? What are some ways to get shoppers involved in holiday community efforts while raising brand awareness and customer loyalty?

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8 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Companies Party with a Purpose"


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Mike Osorio
Guest
Mike Osorio
9 years 6 months ago

Adding corporate social responsibility (CSR) to traditional employee engagement activities such as holiday parties can be a real plus — IF it is congruent with the culture of the company and the values of the employees. As we have learned more about the importance of measuring and successfully impacting employee engagement, holiday parties take on an important meaning in overall engagement activities.

Most companies find that their employees place ever-increasing importance on their employer’s CSR activities. When CSR is combined with employee celebrations, companies generally receive a doubled benefit. Just be sure these aren’t one-offs, but rather an ongoing “way of being” for the organization. If done well, this can be a key to developing employee engagement and loyalty, which often spills over into customer engagement.

Adrian Weidmann
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

What about organizing a corporate day for Habitat for Humanity? It will inspire team building away from the corporate politics while also encouraging family activity and brand value.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 6 months ago
This is something I have been doing each holiday season for more than twenty years. Either in my company or any group I am involved with, we have made this a custom. Each holiday we have a party or meeting, depending on if it is a company or group event. Entrance to the event requires at least one unwrapped gift of a value of $25.00 or less. The gifts are given at the event to a group such as Women in Distress or a children’s specific group such as a Ronald McDonald House or the Marine Corps or Firemen’s Toy Drive. This is our best attended and most anticipated event of the year. The holidays bring out the best in most people. Doing away with gifts to clients and making the donation to a charity in their name has also been a big hit with the clients. They are tired of gifts of candies or cookies. These changes have become winners for everyone involved. The givers feel good about it. The receivers are more than… Read more »
Doug Fleener
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Thanks for everyone’s input. I think what makes this a little more unique is that the majority of the employees are front-line staff in stores with extremely long hours. In this example, the retailer will be giving back to a community that’s been hit very hard (Las Vegas).

Liz Crawford
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

What makes this work is the giftcards that employees get up front. If employees had been required to buy their own gifts and forfeit their usual party, the whole thing might not have gone over as well. When companies “encourage” employees to give, and visit them one by one, it can be coercive. It may not always be, but sometimes it is perceived that way. But by giving the giftcards in advance, that feeling is dispelled (the company is freely giving) and the “real spirit of the season” can be enjoyed. This may inspire employees to follow suit with donations.

Ralph Jacobson
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

You’ve got to make it personal, to both employees as well as shoppers. If employees can share the effort with shoppers, then that can be a natural loyalty-building opportunity. Make it “local” in nature, also. Help a family who has been in the news because of an ill child, or a house fire, or whatever. There are so many ways to make this a positive in the community. Take a chance and be different than your competitors. You will bring goodwill to the local market and increase your customer base.

Mark Burr
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

I would highly recommend an event for both retailers and their associates that connects with families of their own associates and those of their customers who have members of their family or friends serving in the armed forces.

The revelation of these connections would be surprising and there is never enough recognition of the sacrifice that both families of associates and customers are making. It is a result of their sacrifice that we are able to celebrate the holidays the way we do in the first place.

The response to efforts I have experienced with this has been overwhelming. It’s been heartening and the connections involved have created relationships that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. I can only imagine the success this would be if it also involved going beyond associates and connecting with customers in this way. These are real families that are all around us in every market. It doesn’t take a very far reach to find the connection.

Kai Clarke
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

It is great that we all want to help out, but at the company annual recognition or holiday party for their employees? Why not make a company charitable deduction by allowing employees to work for the charity during regular working days throughout the year? This involves the employees while getting the company to focus their resources in a meaningful way to a charity (or several charities).

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