by Leo Jakobson | February 16, 2017

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) remains an important and popular component of incentive award programs. That is something that both incentive planners and suppliers agreed on at the inaugural Incentive Live show in January, produced by Northstar Meetings Group, Incentive's parent company.

But according to Melissa Van Dyke, president of the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), while corporate social responsibility is included in the programs operated by a majority of planners, it "means something different to every organization." 

This concept is one of several touched on in the IRF's 2017 Trends Study, released at Incentive Live. As the report notes in its section on the Evolving Design of Reward and Recognition Programs, "Employees and attendees today want the option to share their success, wealth, and gifts with their families and those in need -- whether it is gifting award points to one's favorite charity, allowing a spouse or child to choose the reward, selecting a merchandise item where a portion of the profits go to solve social issues, or engaging in a corporate social responsibility event during an incentive travel program."

That was not the first time that the idea of incentive travel as something more than just giving a check or painting a school has come up. In an article about the state of incentive travel published by Incentive this past fall, Frank McVeigh, president and CEO of McVeigh Associates, Ltd. in Amityville, NY, said, "'Impact travel' is a new buzz phrase -- a blend of past CSR activities and 'go local' movements." He gave examples including a Native talking stick ceremony and dance during an Alaskan cruise.

In that same article, Kevin M. Hinton, CIS, and chief excellence officer for the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), noted that what participants are looking for in CSR activities is a way to "get more involved with the community and culture" they are visiting. And SITE's research shows that some 70 percent of incentive travel programs include a CSR activity.

For more on the IRF's 2017 Trends Study, read "Growth Coming to the Incentive Industry."