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Philanthropy Can Be a Key Component to Trade Show Success


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When you participate in a trade show in a big city such as Chicago, Las Vegas, New York or San Francisco, the city usually rolls out the red carpet for trade show exhibitors. After all, the trade show management, exhibitors and attendees are stimulating the local economy –spending money staying in the hotels, eating out at local restaurants, buying tourist gifts from local vendors, hiring cabs and opening their wallets to the local economy. But does the trade show organizer or the trade show exhibitor ever think to do more for the local community’s needs? Although the trade show boosts the local economy, what about the charitable needs of the community?

According to Eve Schmitt, CMP, Executive Vice President Cappa & Graham, a leader in the trade show event and meeting production industry, philanthropic minded companies make an impact by creating goodwill when they reach out to the local community. In fact, philanthropy can become the most substantial component of a particular trade show booth or trade show event.

Because of this, savvy trade show marketers and meeting planners focus on ways trade show event proceeds, goods and services can help local charities. An example of this type of thinking is the American Dental Association’s trade show in San Francisco. At their trade show exhibitors’ booths, there are giveaways such as toothpaste, floss, toothbrushes, etc. When the trade show is over and there are leftover supplies (and there usually are), they donate the remainder to homeless shelters in San Francisco. The American Dental Association has arranged in advance all the logistics for the donations to go to the shelters. It is a good way to build goodwill in the community.

Another way to contribute is to ask your celebrity keynote speaker to donate his/her speaking fee to a favorite charity. If they agree, you can arrange for the monies to go directly to his/her favorite charitable foundation. By doing this, the compensation funds will be free of income tax due to the nonprofit status of the foundation.

Also many cities do their part to be good citizens as they support these events in their community. Moscone Center in San Francisco won a state award for recycling, and is a leader in the “green meeting" trend. The show management uses less paper, uses recycle bins, compacters for paper and cardboard and offers post trade show graphics to art schools for their reuse. Everything on the trade show floor is recyclable- from drapes to carpets. Shaklee is also a good neighbor with green thinking and using recyclable materials. In fact, the business community in San Francisco has been known for its St Francis philosophy.

When planning a trade show display experience or trade show event, be sure to ask yourself how you can contribute to the local needs of the community. Thinking about giving back to the community is always good business.

This is true wherever you have a trade show exhibit—whether it be at the McCormick Convention Center in Chicago, the Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland, the Moscone Center in San Francisco, the Santa Clara Convention Center or the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

Remember, the next time you plan a trade show exhibit, challenge your trade show display marketing and sales teams to find ways to contribute to the local needs of the community where you will be exhibiting. By making a philanthropic plan you will be able to contribute goodwill to a community that reaches far beyond the trade show floor.

Dick Wheeler is President of Professional Exhibits & Graphics, headquartered in Sunnyvale, California with showroom in Sacramento. Firm is full-service premiere trade show exhibit, graphics and management services company.


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