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How to host an ethical event

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The words ‘ethical’ and ‘socially conscious’ conjure up a variety of meanings, including adopting environmentally sustainable actions such as composting and recycling, offsetting carbon emissions, serving only fair-trade produce, and working with service providers that address a social need such as unemployment.

Market research has indicated that a range of event organisers – individuals, corporations and not-for-profit (NFP) organisations – are not satisfied with simply having an event that meets their basic needs; rather, they want to organise an event that is ethical and socially conscious, and that has an impact beyond their own agenda.

For NFP organisations, a desire to practice what they preach and ensure their actions in an event context are aligned with their organisation’s values and culture motivates them to produce events ethically.

Here are some ways to generate a positive social impact through events:

1. Community venues

There are a variety of community
venues across Australia that cater for meetings, parties, conferences and exhibitions. Profits from the hire of these venues are channelled back into the NFP organisation the community venue is partnered with, allowing that organisation to continue their work in addressing a social or community need.

2. Socially-conscious event services

There are many catering, cleaning, decorating, and event management businesses that provide socially-conscious services:

  • The Mission Caters provides training and employment opportunities for long-term unemployed Australians who have suffered or are experiencing mental illness. Profits from the business go towards Prahran Mission’s community work with the homeless and those experiencing mental illness.
  • Kinfolk Cafe Catering provides volunteer opportunities in hospitality and donate profits to NFP organisations.
  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre offers support for those seeking refuge in Australia, such as through its catering business which provides training and employment opportunities for asylum seekers and refugees.
  • Clean Force Property Services Provides training and employment opportunities in the cleaning industry for long-term unemployed Australians with disabilities.

3. Be ethical

Recycle your paper or cardboard waste; use compost bins for your food scraps; ensure that produce such as tea, coffee and chocolate are certified fair-trade, and offset carbon emissions from travel and electricity wherever you can.

4. Spread the word

You might know the importance of producing a socially and environmentally-friendly event but that does not mean your guests do. By sharing with them that their attendance at your event has not harmed the environment or people, and has resulted in the generation of positive social impact such as job creation or increased support for NFP organisations, they will be inspired to consider how they could act ethically or socially.

With end-of-year celebrations just around the corner, event co-ordinators are presented with a unique opportunity to facilitate social impact through events and spaces. By following the four steps above, you are well on your way to hosting an event with meaning and purpose.

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