Colorado is a state that values giving back to great causes. Groups can tap into that mantra by working with local destination marketing organizations, destination management companies, meeting planners and hotel sales and conference teams to find a great fit with local nonprofits and organizations like the U.S. Forest Service.
Here are a few ideas to get started.
Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver actively seeks Hunger Heroes (a.k.a., volunteers) and has all sorts of meaningful ways for groups to help out, especially with Monday through Friday morning and afternoon shifts and on the third Saturdays of the month at the Main Facility and various afternoons at the smaller Nome Facility. In addition to fighting hunger, groups of up to 90 can build team unity, boost morale and contribute to a worthy cause. Volunteer opportunities can involve working in distribution, reclamation and produce sorting areas or perhaps filling boxes and totes for special programs.
Care & Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado has distribution centers in Colorado Springs and Pueblo where groups can help sort and pack food or help keep the three gardens at the Colorado Springs location in tip-top shape and harvest produce.
While many people have visited the United State’s impressive national parks, not many have the chance to help preserve these important natural wonders. Most national parks have volunteer opportunities and coordinators to assist groups. Rocky Mountain National Park in particular, with entrances near Estes Park and Granby, has extensive experience working with groups but also check out the options at Colorado’s three other impressive national parks: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde National Park and Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve. Many communities have nonprofit organizations in place to build and maintain trails for hiking, biking and more. This is where local destination marketing organizations and DMCs can guide the way in matching groups with entities such as the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association, Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Walking Mountains Science Center based in Avon customizes programs for groups meeting in the Vail Valley. For the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference, a pre-conference volunteer day involved maintenance of a popular local trail and cleaning up areas around the river. On summer Wednesday mornings, WMSC offers Pulling Together Volunteer Program for two hours to remove invasive plant species, plant native vegetation, and build or maintain hiking trails. Learning about the issues, challenges and opportunities is always part of volunteer activities.
Helping Hands for Education
It could be as simple as every attendee bringing their favorite children’s book or selecting from a group of provided books, signing with a special message inside, and donating the books to a school library or specific classroom. Make it even more special by providing guest readers and selecting books specific to the Colorado destination where you are meeting or around a certain topic that ties into your meeting theme or your company’s purpose. Another neat option is donating leftover meeting materials instead of shipping them back to the office or throwing them away such as notebooks, conference totes, fabric, pens, giveaways and more. Raft is a Denver-based nonprofit that repurposes materials destined for the landfill and upcycles them into raftGoods. The items are paired with creative curriculum and design challenges and can be purchased inexpensively and as kits that provide hands-on learning experiences for kids. Groups also can help assemble the kits as a rewarding corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.
Pairing Options with Interests
It always helps to match CSR activities with attendees’ interests. If your group is large, perhaps offer a menu of options through a team-building company like Colorado-based CBST Adventures. A few examples of programs offered by CBST include Built for Need Bicycle Challenge, Playground Overhaul, Camper Quest, Mini-Golf Community Challenge and Community Impact Amazing Race.The options to give back to a great cause and engage in the community where a group is meeting are nearly endless. A well-planned service project also can be one of the most memorable parts of a group gathering!