One of the rare bright spots in the ongoing economic malaise is the rise of corporate social responsibility, where team building for a cause is an especially positive trend. "Everyone benefits -- the company whose employees are re-invigorated by working for a common good, and the community at large," notes Alan Ranzer, managing partner and co-founder of East Hanover, N.J.-based Impact 4 Good, which creates such programs for corporations.
Ranzer's firm recently organized a "Takin' It to the Streets" event for Naperville, Ill.-based telecommunications provider Tellabs. "It was at our global sales conference in Las Vegas, which drew 400 people from around the globe," says Amy Zurko, Tellabs' program manager for events. "Impact 4 Good identified 10 nonprofit agencies in the area for us to work with and provided us with projects that met our budget." In this case, 10 teams were each given $300 in addition to supplies to work their magic.
Within a four-hour time frame, the teams were put on buses and sent out to complete their missions, which included building a garden for a charter public school, refurbishing the play areas at a Ronald McDonald House, packing meals at a food bank, working with mentally challenged adults and painting a library. "That night, all that our top sales performers and executive team could talk about was what they accomplished," says Zurko. "Now they want to do this every year." As Ranzer puts it, "One day, 10 community service projects -- now that's a day of giving!"
Other firms that offer CSR team-building programs include Corporate Event Interactive,Sabre Corporate Development and TeamBuilding Unlimited.