It’s no secret that attendee event engagement can be a challenge at conferences and other industry events. Fortunately, there are proven ways to boost attendee engagement that everyone can feel good about.
That’s where AdoptAClassroom.org comes in. As a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we partner with companies across the county and connect them to local schools and teachers, to support education in a direct and meaningful way.
In 2019, we partnered with two industry-leading events and services companies, HDI and ICMI, that were looking to increase the response rates to their event evaluations. Since moving away from paper evaluations in favor of eco-friendly digital options, they had seen response rates decline. Joy Sobhani, Group Event Director at HDI and ICMI, explained “We tried pushing them out via the mobile app and email, and adding various incentives. Nothing worked. Our response rates plummeted, and we struggled to get enough feedback from attendees to generate actionable data.”
To tackle the problem, HDI and ICMI launched a new initiative they call Evals4Education. At each of their events in 2019 (four in total), the companies selected a local school to support via a $1 donation to AdoptAClassroom.org for each completed event evaluation.
“Our goal was to find an incentive plan that was more meaningful and thoughtful than a gift card, raffle, or prize,” Patty Caron, Event Director at ICMI, said. “Because our event locations vary, we wanted to find a relatable cause that had national stature, but allowed us to support the local community, and can be the one program we rally around so attendees come to expect it.”
“The results of the program were astounding. Not only did ICMI see a 150% increase in response rates, but we witnessed an ownership and dedication to the cause.”
HDI saw similar results that “wildly exceeded all expectations!” Joy said. The number of completed evaluations they collected at their event in November was up 250% from last year.
Attendees at the 2019 ICMI Contact Center Expo.
To spread the word about the new initiative, HDI and ICMI promoted it via onsite signage, session announcements, and slides during the keynotes and in every conference session.
To connect attendees to the cause, HDI and ICMI invited a representative from the school they were supporting to talk to the audience for a few minutes. At ICMI’s event in May, the assistant principal of the selected school talked about his school’s needs and how the donation would help.
“When he shared that they have a need for projectors, one of our attendees whose company replaces their training projectors every year, offered to ship their old projectors to the school, making it an annual gift the assistant principal can count on,” Patty said.
Assistant Principal Theon Eames on stage at the 2019 ICMI Contact Center Expo.
Several session presenters decided they wanted to help too, and offered to match donations for evaluations from their specific sessions. “There was intangible but significant goodwill associated with this initiative. It was clear from the ‘buzz’ onsite that our attendees appreciated the opportunity to support a meaningful cause during the events,” Joy said.
After implementing Evals4Education at four different events in 2019, HDI and ICMI donated more than $10,000 to support schools in need, and collected robust and valuable data that will help them improve future events. ”Based on these results we have budgeted to continue this initiative at future events. We’re also looking at opportunities to expand it,” Joy said.
Patty also plans to continue the Evals4Education initiative at future ICMI events. “Partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org gave ICMI and our event attendees the opportunity to have a profound impact on education,” Patty said. ”We made the decision to continue partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org for our conferences, and to promote our partnership early in the process to make it part of our conference brand. It proves our commitment to the communities where we host our events, and to education.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how partnering with AdoptAClassroom.org could help increase attendee engagement at your industry events, please contact [email protected].