Need Ideas for Giving Back? Look No Further Than These Event Organizations

February 27, 2019

Myriad event-related companies and organizations are demonstrating their cultures of compassion by donating their time, money and energy to causes that make a difference. Here are four carrying out initiatives that might just inspire your own CSR programming.

International Home + Housewares Show Celebrates Philanthropy

At its upcoming 2019 Annual Housewares Cares Charity Gala, taking place March 4 during the 2019 International Home + Housewares Show at McCormick Place in Chicago, the Housewares Charity Foundation will honor four industry veterans for their philanthropic endeavors.

Honorees include Wayfair co-founders Niraj Shah and Steve Conine, who will receive the Humanitarian of the Year Award; Ulta Beauty CEO Mary Dillon, who will be awarded the Legacy Humanitarian Award; and William A. Foley, chairman and CEO of Libbey, who will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.                   

Proceeds from the Gala, which will be held at Navy Pier, will benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the HCF’s legacy charity, as well as the James Beard Foundation. 

Since the first gala in 1998, HCF has raised more than $50 million and has been credited with donating more than $29 million to BCRF. Since 2000, HCF has funded 120 BCRF research projects.  

Visit Phoenix and RCMA Team Up to Support Childhood Literacy

Visit Phoenix partnered with the Religious Conference Management Association to collect nearly 400 children’s books during the EMERGE 2019 conference, held Jan. 29-31 at Sheraton Greensboro Hotel and Joseph S. Koury Convention Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. 


The books were donated to a local domestic violence shelter for women and their children.

EMERGE featured a two-day trade show, four keynote sessions, 30 educational sessions and community service opportunities in the Greensboro community. 

Participating in efforts to give back to local communities is part of a greater collective effort among Phoenix’s downtown partners called “Faith in Phoenix,” which started 10 years ago. 

According to Donn Oswald, director of Midwest sales for Visit Phoenix, the initiative’s mission is to establish Phoenix as the premier religious conference and meetings destination in the West.

“The Greater Phoenix area is known for warm, Southwest hospitality, and it’s important to us that we give back to the communities that we visit ourselves throughout the year and continue that tradition,” Oswald explained.

American Bus Association Helps Equine Workers at Famed Racetrack

When the American Bus Association returned to Louisville, Kentucky, for its 2019 ABA Marketplace, held Jan. 26-29 at Kentucky International Convention Center, the association brought more than 3,500 tour operators, suppliers and exhibitors to the Southern city — it also brought a lot of heart. 

ABA Gives Back is a program that encourages donations throughout the convention to benefit a local nonprofit organization. Donations are made through various purchases on the showfloor and at the popular ABA Gives Back evening event. 

This year’s benefits went to Backside Learning Center, a non-profit organization that builds community and enriches the lives of equine workers and their families at the famous Churchill Downs racetrack.

Created in 2007 to deliver a positive economic impact as well as a social impact in its host communities, this annual charitable campaign has so far raised more than $347,000 for local charities.

At 2019 ABA Marketplace, attendees had access to unique donation opportunities and events throughout the show, culminating in an event at the Kentucky Derby Museum boasting more than 2,000 attendees. 

Opportunities to help raise money for the Backside Learning Center through various purchases and activities included:

           • Commemorative Evan Williams bourbon bottles

           • Souvenir ABA mint julep cups

           • Local Louisville vendor area on the show floor

           • Raffle to win 2019 Kentucky Derby tickets

           • A photo opportunity with jockey Pat Day

           • An opportunity to meet a thoroughbred racehorse

“We hope to put these donations toward a 12-passenger van to transport the students and adults offsite for educational opportunities and activities,” said Backside Learning Center Executive Director Sherry Stanley. “We are so thankful for all ABA and Louisville Tourism have done for us.”

Orbus Helps Wildlife and Children In Need

Last year was a philanthropic one for Orbus Exhibit & Display Group, a North American wholesale supplier and manufacturer of display, exhibit, graphic and event solutions.

The company raised more than $14,000 for Project C.A.T., a global effort launched by Discovery in partnership with World Wildlife Fund to conserve protected land and double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022. 

Orbus encouraged participation in a number of fundraisers throughout 2018 to benefit the project, resulting in an impressive $14,000 donation to the cause.

Late last year, Orbus employees also organized and contributed to the DuPage County Toys for Tots program by hosting a drive and collecting new, unwrapped toys for children.

Since 1947, Toys for Tots has distributed 548 million toys to support 251 million children.  The DuPage County program collects 60,000-80,000 toy donations annually. 

This marked the fifth consecutive year that Orbus has collected and donated to the program.


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Partner Voices
Less than six months ago, Lisa Messina joined the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) as the first-ever chief sales officer after leading the sales team at Caesars Entertainment. A 12-year Las Vegas resident, Messina is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration and serves on MPI International’s board of directors. TSNN had a chance to catch up with this dynamic leader and talk to her about her vision for the new role, current shifts in the trade show industry, creating more diversity and equity within the organization, and advice to future female leaders. Lisa Messina, Chief Sales Officer, LVCVA With Las Vegas becoming The Greatest Arena on EarthTM, what are some of the things you’re most excited about in your role? Our team was at The Big Game’s handoff ceremony earlier this month, and I couldn’t help but think, “We’re going to crush it next year!”  These high-profile events and venues not only drive excitement, but also provide unmatched opportunities for event planners. Allegiant Stadium hosts events from 10 to 65,000 people and offers on-field experiences. Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place in Las Vegas in November, after the year-one F1 race, the four-story paddock building will be available for buyouts and will also offer daily ride-along experiences that will be available for groups. And, of course, the MSG Sphere officially announced that it will open in September, ahead of schedule, with a U2 residency. It’s going to be the most technologically advanced venue as far as lighting, sound, feel, and even scent, and it will be available for buyouts and next-level sponsorships inside and outside. There’s no ceiling to what you can do when you’re doing events in Las Vegas.  Allegiant Stadium As the trade show and convention business returns to the pre-pandemic levels, what shifts are you noticing and how do you think they will impact the industry going forward? Our trade show organizers are very focused on driving customer experience. Most of our organizers are reporting stronger exhibitor numbers and increased numbers of new exhibitors, with trade shows proving to be almost or above 2019 levels. Now our organizers are really doubling down on driving attendance and focusing on the data to provide that individualized, customized experience to help attendees meet their goals and get the best value. Some companies continue to be cautiously optimistic with their organizational spend when it comes to sending attendees, but I think it will continue to improve. As the U.S. Travel Association makes more progress on the U.S. visa situation, we also expect a growing influx of international attendees. What are some innovative ways the LVCVA helps trade show and convention organizers deliver the most value for their events? We focus on customer experience in the same way that trade show organizers are thinking about it. We got rave reviews with the West Hall Expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), so over the next two years, we will be renovating the North and the Central halls, which will include not just the same look and feel, but also the digital experiences that can be leveraged for branding and sponsorship opportunities.  Vegas Loop, the underground transportation system designed by The Boring Company, is also a way we have enhanced the customer experience. Vegas Loop at the LVCC has transported more than 900,000 convention attendees across the campus since its 2021 launch. Last summer, Resorts World and The Boring Company opened the first resort stop at the Resorts World Las Vegas , with plans to expand throughout the resort corridor, including downtown Las Vegas, Allegiant Stadium and Harry Reid International Airport. The LVCVA also purchased the Las Vegas Monorail in 2020, the 3.9-mile-long elevated transportation system that connects eight resorts directly to the convention center campus. This is the only rail system in the world that integrates fares directly into show badges and registration. For trade show organizers, these transportation options mean saving time, money and effort when it comes to moving groups from the hotels to LVCC and around the city. Also, the more we can focus on building the infrastructure around the convention center, the more it supports the customer experience and ultimately supports our trade show organizers. Scheduled to debut in Q4, Fontainebleau Las Vegas will offer 3,700 hotel rooms and 550,000 square feet of meeting and convention space next to LVCC.  What are some of the plans for advancing DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion) within your organization? We’re currently partnering with instead of working with a leading consulting firm, to lay the foundation and create a solid DEI plan and be the leader when it comes to DEI initiatives. The heart of that journey with the consulting firm is also talking to our customers about their strategic approaches to DEI and driving innovation in this space.  What are your favorite ways to recharge? My husband and I have an RV and we’re outdoorsy people. So, while we have over 150,000 world-class hotel rooms and renowned restaurants right outside our doorstep, one of my favorite things to do is get out to Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire, and Lake Mead. Five of the top national parks are within a three-hour drive from Las Vegas, so there’s a lot you can do. We love balancing the energy of Las Vegas with nature, and we’re noticing that a lot of attendees add activities off the Strip when they come here.  Valley of Fire What advice would you give to women following leadership paths in destination marketing? I think it’s about being laser-focused on what you want to accomplish; building a team around you that lifts you and helps you achieve your goals; and being humble and realizing that you do it as a group. No one gets this done alone. Thankfully, there are a lot of women in leadership in this organization, in our customers’ organizations, and in this city that we can be really proud of. We’re a formidable force that is making things happen.   This interview has been edited and condensed. This article is exclusively sponsored by the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. For more information, visit HERE.