Since 2006, the US Dept. of Agriculture estimates that bee populations have dwindled by 1/3 due to new pesticides. That’s an issue because bees pollinate over 20 fruits and 12 vegetables worth $15 billion dollars in sales to farmers yearly.
These are things you learn with Impact4Good, who create customized corporate programs that promote group cohesion, education and giving back to local communities. Most of Impact 4 Good’s programs are scalable, designed to work effectively on-property within as little as 2-3 hours.
For example, groups in Jamaica, Mexico and the Gulf Coast have built wooden beehives on hotel grounds with local beekeepers. Putting together these intricate boxes by people with varying mechanical skills satisfies the client’s teambuilding requirement. And according to co-founder Ira Lawrence Almeas, participants like that they can engage with locals about their livelihoods in an uncontrived, non-touristy manner.
“I’ve been in the incentive industry over 25 years and I just got tired of the typical beach olympics,” says Almeas, a past president of the Incentive Research Foundation. “So I shared my frustration with the hotels and DMCs and started creating my own programs.”
How did you come up with beehives, Ira?
“There’s actually a huge demand, you can read about it on Ben & Jerry’s website…. The group will build beehives with a beehive cooperative, and it creates this nice exchange. We provide them with a dossier about the coop beforehand and the financial issues due to a lack of beehives. That’s what creates the interest, that’s the takeaway, because everyone likes to help people.”
With demand for these events on the rise, Almeas and co-founder Alan Ranzer created two new programs this year that focus on getting out of the hotel into local communities.
“The NeighborGood” combines elements of a scavenger hunt, volunteerism and The Amazing Race to simulate key corporate objectives like improving communication, trust and time management. Impact 4 Good employs community members who the group has to find through a series of challenges. This person might be a single mother directing the group to a day care or Big Brothers facility. Or a senior citizen who’ll lead everyone to a senior’s home. Depending on time, groups can then do educational or manual volunteer work at the facility, or just visit with the residents.
“That interaction is an important element to us, groups getting to know the community,” says Almeas. “A lot of times people will go on an incentive program and they’ll have a wonderful experience, but they never get to know the people from that destination.”
The second new program is “Takin’ It To The Streets,” based loosely on Oprah’s Big Give events. Groups will meet at a restaurant to break the ice with community leaders. They’ll discuss unique challenges to that community, and then everyone will brainstorm ways to attack those challenges.
“So if it’s a community center that’s falling apart, do you spend on paint, or do you spend on marketing to get other community leaders to donate so you’ll have more money?” asks Almeas. “A lot of business and marketing skills come out of these sessions.
“Some non-profit organizations don’t have a think tank of senior corporate executives, or they’d have to pay a lot for that expertise. And you know what, you learn something about yourself, too.”