Team Building for Charity / CSR. Do you have the right motives?


Team Building activities that have been tailored for a "meaningful" link to a genuine charity or community cause with some "sincerity" are truly a wonderful thing.

It's a great opportunity create a lasting legacy from a corporate conference, meeting or off-site. For many charities its also an excellent opportunity to create greater awareness and advocacy for their cause.

Emphasis however must be placed on the words "meaningful" and"sincerity".

So what helps make a charity and CSR based team building experience go further than just a short term "feel good" for a few pampered corporate conference or event goers?

They must be MEANINGFULLY linked to a genuine need:

It's all very well and good to consider giving delegates / participants a few short "feel good" and "warm fluffy" moments at their conference team building session, but keeping some perspective on the realities that that charity or community group face every day is also the decent thing to do.

Whilst any gestures of support are usually truly appreciated, remember, the irony of many well-paid and quite pampered folks at a 5 Star Resort putting aside an hour or two to make or pass on some token items may not be lost on experienced charity and NGO leaders unless its meaningful and sincere.

A decision-maker may fall in love with the idea of let's say a "Bike Building for Kids" team building event, and pardon the pun, it's bells and whistles, but is that what a charity may actually need?

As with many other team builds, the "tail can wag the dog" somewhat when an organiser gets fixated on a theme at the expense of the content.

What if that charity already has enough bikes or simply doesn't want them? Does the client have the true sense of meaning in the spirit of these events to then ditch the bike build in favour of an activity construct that may be a little less "cute" but delivers something actually needed (e.g. educational packs, medical supplies, water treatment initiatives etc)?

Sometimes the stuff that will actually have far greater "meaning" to the end-users has less appeal in a thematic, cute or "feel good" sense on the day.

I have always felt that for a Charity / CSR based team building concept to truly work, its not just the activity design and delivery that need to be of the best, but so too do the motives.

I have also thought it quite tacky and inappropriate to parade the actual children from a needy charity in front of a corporate audience. This may tug some heart strings but is clealry done with little regard for how the dignity of that child or family may be impacted. This is something that Sabre will never do, and we have refused a number of clients who felt this needed to be done. No corporate event should compromise the dignity of a child or family in difficult circumstances no matter how "nice" the intentions may appear.

These events must be underpinned with SINCERITY of intent:

Probably the worst example that I ever saw was a client (shall of course remain nameless) who had committed to approximately Aud $2 500 worth of kids bikes and toys for a charity.

At the end of the event when it was time to hand over the items to the charity Rep, the client was not only obviously more concerened with getting some pics for marketing purposes on social media, but then proceeded to award winning teams with approximately Aud $3 000 worth of high fashion sunglasses.

This was all done in front of the charity Rep who had just outlined how every cent mattered to this genuinely heart wrenching cause.

Not a good look, and obviously lacking in "sincerity" to the charity Reps present.

Doing a bit of a "sincerity audit" before selecting your charity based team building event is strongly advisable to put your intentions, the nature of the event and what's needed into a proper context.

At the other end of the spectrum I have had leadership teams run an Aud $3 000 team build that donates Aud $10 000 to a charity, or a team on an international event in Bangkok not only donate trailer loads of toys to an orphanage, but also has the leadership team commit to an ongoing relationship.

Once again, charity and CSR events can make a real difference but making sure that they are truly meaningful and built upon a foundation of sincerity of intent will make them far more memorable and impactful.

To see some samples of Charity and CSR team building approaches that can be tailored for local and overseas organisations such as Rotary, World Vision, The Smith Family, Salvation Army, Bravehearts, CANTEEN and many more visit the charity team building section of our site.

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