What is CSR?

What is CSR? CSR—corporate social responsibility—was an acronym you weren’t hearing much a half-dozen years ago. Today, it’s one of the hottest terms in the meetings industry and only getting hotter.

But what is CSR exactly? That probably depends to an extent on who you ask. In my humble opinion, and as someone who has only taken part in a handful of ‘CSR’ experiences, it’s simply a form of teambuilding that gives back to the planet or a particular community, region or cause. When such an activity is arranged properly, it’s truly a win-win; the participating group strengthens their bond and perhaps even learns to work and communicate together a bit better, and a group or destination in need is given crucial assistance. A good example here would be a shoreline being cleaned up after a storm, or perhaps a group of underprivileged children having bicycles built for them.

Another popular activity is working with a group like Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a family in need of support. But a good starting point is to check with the hotel group hosting your group/event, most of whom have a dedicated team overseeing CSR (some even have an entire company division devoted to it).

I recently partook in a Caesars-run CSR effort in Vegas where a few hundred planners and a handful of travel trade media chipped in on a neighborhood clean-up project. Of course, it being a Caesars-led event meant we were served a delicious lunch, and a DJ kept things fun with non-stop tunes, but the real enjoyment was helping make an impact on a street that clearly did need some sprucing up. Four hours have never passed so quickly.

Corporate Social Responsibility has in fact become such a prevailing way for groups to bond, and make a difference while ‘giving back,’ I honestly question whether the old tried-and-true team-building approaches can maintain their luster. Sure, a well-organized ropes course in the countryside is likely to boost your team’s cooperativeness and communication…but if with a comparable amount of time and effort you could paint a children’s school building that really needed a refresh, or help a struggling neighborhood install a community garden, wouldn’t that be more meaningful and memorable?

On that note, here are some links to some resources on the matter and groups specializing in CSR:

What is CSR? - Resources

Odyssey Teams - Specializing in ‘philanthropic team building,’ including building play houses for children and even prosthetic hands. Based in Chico, Calif.


 Habitat for Humanity- Established group working to build homes for struggling families


Thorough Checklist for CSR Success


 Lengthy description of and details on CSRfrom Wikipedia



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