• May 2010

Throwing A Socially Conscious Event Is Easier Than You Think

By Roxanne Rukowicz, Principal
Behind the Scenes Events

Events with a Purpose

The events industry is slowly trending away from a social calendar full of “meet-and-greet” networking affairs that have long anchored the business community. Today’s event attendee, and the accompanying all-important sponsors, are backing more socially conscious events, garnering a larger, more community-based audience and placing their names behind a noteworthy cause.

Socially conscious events are the new paradigm – a values-driven proposition that places an emphasis on improving the quality of life for the community and the environment, often while improving your bottom line. How can you produce an Event with a Purpose?

Give back

By hosting an event that directly benefits a local nonprofit, school or charitable organization, attendees can make a big impact in their own community in just a few short hours.

Take for instance, KA-BOOM, a Washington, DC, based nonprofit dedicated to creating a safe place for every child to play. Through a partnership with a local financial firm, invited guests spent a day building a playground for those children who might otherwise not have a place to go. The financial institution gained considerable press and goodwill from the community for having supported and underwritten the endeavor and attendees left exhilarated by their positive impact with something tangible to show for their efforts.


For those events better suited for the ballroom, consider partnering with a cause and donating a portion of the fundraising proceeds. Advertise the partnership when marketing the event and through PR efforts to build goodwill in the community and to potentially drive ticket sales from additional supporters.

Take the effort one step further by inviting a representative from the organization to the event to briefly tell their story and receive a check onstage. Attendees will have even more of a positive connection to the event if they watch their good intentions making it into the right hands.

Go green

From offering locally sourced catering, to reducing excess printing, to paying carbon offsets to mitigate airfare expenditures, there are an endless number of ways to green an event. But many attendees are asking to play a larger role in the process.

In honor of Earth Day, organizers recently produced “Live Green” a citywide scavenger hunt where participants raced against the clock to explore Washington, DC’s most eco-friendly locations. Guests engaged with vendors and sponsors, all while completing challenges, collecting clues and increasing their knowledge of sustainable practices and products readily available to them.

What better way for organizers to engage attendees than through fun, impactful programming?


Don’t miss the opportunity to use an event as an educational tool. Considering your captive audience, nonprofits and other charitable organizations can take extra, yet affordable, steps to tell their story and build a larger donor base.

Samaritan Inns, a DC-based nonprofit dedicated to helping those fighting homelessness and addiction, has plans for a special photography exhibit during its 25th Anniversary celebration.

Guests, many of whom are corporate donors who will not have an intimate knowledge of the organization, will enjoy the display during the reception —a documentary, of sorts, from those whom the charity has directly assisted. The photos will be uplifting at one moment, desperate at others … intimate tales from the streets – a visual educational tool so that others may learn and, potentially, be moved to assist however they can.

Socially conscious events are quickly becoming the norm and with good reason. With private and corporate dollars stretched to the limit, guests and sponsors alike want to “do well while doing good.” Not only will organizers find an increase in the event’s positive vibe, they’ll also be pleasantly surprised by the uptick in participation too.

About Roxanne Rukowicz

Ranked one of Washington, DC’s top Meeting and Event Planners for 2009 by the Washington Business Journal, Roxanne Rukowicz’s Behind the Scenes Events, opened its doors in July of 2008 with a single concept in mind: to offer organizations access to an affordable full-service meeting and event planning solution.

Having worked in the Washington, DC, meeting and event industry for over a decade, Roxanne started her career at the Greater Washington Board of Trade in 1999. Her experience with this influential regional network of business leaders allowed her hands-on training from the start. What began as a mere temporary work assignment later progressed into a position as General Manager as she excelled at each advanced meeting and event planning position she held.

Her extensive association and nonprofit planning skills are accented by experience working in the social and entertainment markets. Positions with The Walt Disney Companies and as a freelance wedding and special event coordinator have featured opportunities with A-list celebrity clients and top ranking government officials.

With a commitment to excellence and focus on the customer experience, Roxanne Rukowicz and the Behind the Scenes Events team create and produce exemplary meetings and events that drive an organization’s mission and goals.

Read all about it: Microsoft tapped Roxanne Rukowicz to be a 2010 “Voice for Small Business”

Late last year, Roxanne was selected to participate in the Microsoft Office 2010 Real Life Stories Program. Just one of ten small businesses to participate out of thousands of applicants, Roxanne is participating in a half-year program to help suss out Microsoft’s latest software.

To celebrate, Roxanne was invited to attend Microsoft’s Open House at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The experience? “Fantastic.”, said Roxanne. “Such a fun and innovative way for Microsoft to engage the press prior to the holiday sales season and the launch of several big concepts next year.”