Nonprofit Event Venues for Social Good

By Belinda Clarke, June 5, 2019

In a time where Americans seem to be fiercely divided on multiple topics, they seem to agree on giving back to those in need. In a 2018 report published by Giving USA, Americans gave $410 billion to charity in 2017, breaking $400 billion for the first time. Giving USA is published by the Giving USA Foundation and researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

And it’s not just about individual giving. Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased 8 percent in 2017, totaling more than $20 billion (an increase of 5.7 percent, adjusted for inflation), according to Giving USA. For corporate events planners, it means that companies are committed to philanthropy and care about the impact their company’s events are having.

One way corporate planners are helping give back through their events is by hosting their meetings at non-profit event spaces. In many cases, proceeds generated through the space rentals help support the related non-profit or foundation.

More Than Words  

More Than Words, a not-for-profit bookstore in Boston’s South End, empowers young adults who are in the foster care system, court-involved, homeless, or out of school to work and manage a bookselling business. In 2018, the bookstore unveiled a new 4,000-sq.-ft. event space for corporate and private events for 30 to 200 guests. Amenities include Wi-Fi, an integrated sound system and projector, a selection of furnishings and a dedicated staffer to direct guests and represent the venue. Rental fees are determined based on space needs and with discounted rates for non-profits.

“When corporate groups rent our space, they are supporting youth in foster care or who are court-involved to take charge of their lives,” says Aida Villarreal-Licona, associate director of events. “Many appreciate the mission-based add-ons that we can offer, such as a personal youth welcome or a tour of the program. They also choose More Than Words because we’re an extremely high quality venue designed with their needs in mind.”

Amala Foundation

The Amala Foundation in downtown Austin, Texas, unites at-risk youth through various programs in a supportive community that promotes compassion and service to communities. The foundation’s physical space, which is available for event rentals, is called The Sanctuary. According to venue manager Jessica Ryan, The Sanctuary Events Space is an urban sanctuary, located under a canopy of live-oak trees. The stone terraces provide a secret garden appeal to the layout of the gardens, Ryan says. There is also a ceremony site, indoor party room, cottage house for catering setup and a small tree-top loft.  When the space is not in use by corporate or private groups, it’s home to some of the foundation’s various social programs, such as Rise Up, which welcomes teens 14 to 18 years old in the evenings twice a month throughout the school year to share thoughts and ideas in a safe environment.

“I have found that corporate companies are now interested in mindfulness team building activities,” Ryan explains. “Many of our event rental clients are social workers and teachers. The venue rental rates are affordable with a range in pricing to meet restrictive budgets. All payments for both yoga classes and venue event bookings go directly to the Amala Foundation.”

Detroit Historical Society

The Detroit Historical society, located in the city’s Midtown Cultural Center, is a venue that provides unique event space for up to 1,000 guests with the added benefit of built-in entertainment in the form of multiple exhibits showcasing the Motor City’s rich history. Corporate clients can book the entire museum for an event or select exhibit halls, but the bookings are limited to only one group at a time, says Sarah Murphy, marketing and PR manager for the museum. For daytime events, general admission is included and for after-hours events access to the entire museum is included with a full venue buyout. Proceeds from the event rentals help support museum programming, Murphy adds.

“Corporate groups are looking for an interesting location to host daytime off-site meetings and retreats where their employees will be able to walk around and tour the museum at some point during the day,” Murphy says. We also have corporate groups that would like their employees to see specific exhibitions we are showcasing.” She adds that all of the approved museum caterers offer Detroit themed menus, which are very popular.

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