Replace Trade Show Giveaways with Charity

trade show giveawayTrade show giveaways are usually costly to produce, package, ship and store — and most attendees either chuck them before leaving their hotel or give them to their kids when they get home. What if instead you could provide a giveaway that gives back to the event’s local community?

That’s what Alation, a leading enterprise data intelligence solutions company, has been doing since early 2020 when it traded in its trade show giveaways with donations to local charities.

It started in early 2020, when huge brushfires in Australia were devastating wide swaths of the country and killing millions of animals in their path. Alation was preparing to exhibit at the Gartner Data & Analytics Summit, scheduled to be held in Sydney in February that year. The company heard about a local Australian brewery that was dedicating proceeds from a special recipe microbrew to help combat the devastation — and inviting other breweries to use its recipe to do the same, which about 300 did.

trade show giveaway
Dave Stevens, Director, Global Events and Field Marketing at Alation

“I heard the story and loved how the microbrew community came together to make a difference,” said Dave Stevens, Director, Global Events and Field Marketing at Alation. As a California-based company, Alation was particularly tuned in to just how devastating wildfires can be and wanted to do something to help. While the first thought was to buy a keg of that special brew and serve it as a trade show giveaway on the show floor to help support the effort, the logistics didn’t work out to make that possible.

“We thought that, instead of shipping swag all the way across the Pacific, we could donate to local charities supporting that cause,” he said. Not only could they help the victims of the brushfire, but they also could save money on purchasing, packaging and shipping the traditional tchotchkes, and minimize the company’s carbon footprint with more sustainable, charitable options.

And so a great trade show giveaway idea was born. For that first Australian show, Alation gave attendees who got their badges scanned at the booth a choice of three local charities to choose from — Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, the Australian Red Cross or the NSW Rural Fire Service. The company then made a $5 AUD donation to the charity of the attendee’s choice.

trade show giveaway
Alation’s charitable donation leaderboard keeping track of donations at the start of a recent show in Orlando

The returns were manifold. “It empowered people in the booth to feel good about scanning badges. We as a company were able to give back to a devastated region in a meaningful way. And we made our trade show experience more sustainable,” said Stevens. So when the first pre-pandemic show came up, Alationdecided to do it again — and raised about $1,000 for local charities in Orlando, where the show was held.

Most companies spend about $5 per giveaway once you factor in purchasing, shipping, storage, and then shipping the remaining items back to the office after the event, he added. “This way, you give that $5 or $10 per scan to a local charity, and reduce your greenhouse emissions and carbon footprint. It’s really an easy lift and we would love to see the idea take hold in this industry,” said Stevens.

“Can you imagine if every company on a show floor did this? We could raise millions for local charities. That would be game-changing.”

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