More and more companies are looking to make their incentive trips more meaningful for their participants by adding an opportunity to give back to the local communities.
In Argentina we have explored several options for different groups.
A dentists group, wanted to visit a free dental clinic in a shanty town to see how they work with disadvantaged children to give them a better chance in life.
For a women-only group, visit to a woman is shelter or help at a women-run small business (cooking empanadas, for instance)
A visit to a combined orphanage and old people is home, to take part in different artistic activities with the children and the old folk.
For a very mixed age group, we organized a morning helping at a food bank, where different teams sorted donated foodstuffs, checked expiration dates, re-packaged for delivery to soup kitchens or orphanages, and loaded up vans. The activity was followed by a finger-food lunch with the other workers to celebrate a job well done.
A group of doctors were coming out to Argentina and wished to give back to the community, but they had only very few days in Buenos Aires. One of the activities on their program was a day at a ranch on the outskirts of the city, with a gaucho demonstration. When they expressed an interest in a CSR activity, we proposed that they invite a group of low-income children from a shelter to share the day with them.
This particular shelter cares for children of low-income shantytown parents during the day, and sometimes several days, whilst their parents are working, in hospital or otherwise unable to care for them. These are children who often suffer from neglect, poverty, a lack of role models, and who certainly do not have many joyous moments in their lives.
What better than to offer them an outing?
This required not only organizing the logistics of transportation, food and entertainment, but the coordination of the required permits from each of the childrens parents, which was quite a challenge for the shelter coordinators given the environment they live in.
Buses picked up the children from the shelter and drove them to the ranch. Most of them had never been out of their neighborhood, so seeing rolling green plains, horses and cows, was already a grand adventure. Upon arriving at the ranch they were each introduced to their doctor and made efforts to communicate, with help from their guides and ATP staff.
Many of the children were shy or in awe, but the ice was rapidly broken by the production of a football. a spirited game was in progress in short order, to many shared laughs. Most of the children having grown up around a ball, they were running rings around their doctor friends (regardless of sex)!
Once things had calmed down a bit, they all shared tables for a typical barbecue (asado), with beef, salads and dessert, followed by a folklore show. Several of the doctors and the children took up the challenge of attempting the dances, with varied success.
When they all moved out to the arena bleachers to watch the gaucho skills demonstration, they were all in awe, and couldn it wait to try the carriage rides and pat the horses. Part of the satisfaction for the doctors was seeing the joy and enthusiasm of their young partners with each little detail.
The children is difficult background was brought home by one incident: one child asked if he could touch his doctor is camera, and was absolutely stunned when he was allowed to actually hold it and look through the visor. He could not believe anyone would let him anywhere near something so valuable.
Though the doctors were staying on for a late tea, it was then time for the children to leave. They piled into the bus for the return trip, and discovered that the bus was packed with gifts from their new friends, both toys and plentiful school supplies (enough for them and also their friends at the shelter). They were also each provided with a little bag of snacks for the return journey. The combination of sun, excitement and more food than they were used to had an unfortunate effect on several of the children on the way back. Luckily we had planned ahead and had provided each child with an extra paper bag!
This was a good example of combining a typical activity for incentive groups, such as a visit to a ranch to see gauchos, with an opportunity to give back.
When a group has limited time in the country, the participants might be less willing to spend part of that time on a purely CSR activity, but if you combine their entertainment with a CSR activity, everyone wins.
For further details, please contact Argentina Travel Partners (ATP DMC), Mrs Merina Begg at firstname.lastname@example.org