What Do Meeting Industry Foundations Do?

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foundationThree major meeting industry organizations — MPI, PCMA and SITE — all are associated with nonprofit foundations that provide support for the global meeting and event industry. But what exactly do they do?

Nonprofit foundations sound like a great idea, and many in the meetings and events industry either support them with direct donations or indirectly through participating in fundraising activities. But what exactly are those dollars going toward?

Here’s a rundown of three major meeting industry foundations that are associated with Meeting Professionals International (MPI), the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) and the Society for Incentive and Travel Excellence (SITE).

MPI Foundation

Founded 40 years ago, the MPI Foundation is a non-for-profit organization to fund grants, scholarships and pan-industry research. It is governed by a global board of trustees that manages the foundation’s strategic direction and provides fiduciary oversight of all fundraising and grant activities.

Scholarships: According to the organization’s website, the MPI Foundation had awarded 2,227 scholarships worth $700,000 as of 2020. Currently available opportunities include 27 Wyndham Membership scholarships; Hyatt Hotels Professional Development scholarships that can be used to cover the cost of the Inclusive Event Strategist Certificate or the Women in Leadership: Executive Skills Certificate; and the Digital Edge Marketing Professional Development scholarships for those who work with destination management organizations (DMOs) or convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs).

Grants and research: The MPI Foundation also offers a number of chapter grants up to $5,000 USD, as well as partners with other organizations to provide major industry grants of more than $5,000. In the past those grants have supported industry research such as The Economic Significance of Meetings to the U.S. Economy report and the IACC Meeting Room of the Future study. In 2020, $561,000 was awarded in MPI-related major grants.

Funding: The MPI Foundation is funded through individual donations and the proceeds of a variety of fundraising events, auctions and programs, including its Rendezvous gala networking event held during the MPI World Education Congress (WEC), the European Meetings & Event Conference (EMEC), and IMEX America. It also holds silent auctions and golf tournaments during WEC and IMEX America.

PCMA Foundation

The PCMA Foundation supports PCMA’s overall mission through fundraising, grants, scholarships, education and research that total almost $1 million annually. Since 1985, the PCMA Foundation has funded more than 2,500 scholarships, 100 research studies and educational programs and $2.5 million in charitable giving to programs such as The Above and Beyond Foundation and Share the Warmth.

Scholarships: Last year, the PCMA Foundation awarded 206 scholarships to both students and industry professionals who are seeking to further their professional skills by attending PCMA’s educational conferences, among other events and opportunities.

Grants and research: The PCMA Foundation provided almost $400,000 in funding to support research and educational projects in 2023, including Advancing Women in the Business Events Industry, the Accessibility Immersion Project and PCMA’s 20 in Their 20s program. The PCMA Foundation also runs the Hospitality Helping Hands give-back program.

Funding: Individuals can donate any amount at any time, as well as join the Legacy Society with a legacy gift that supports the scholar’s program. The foundation also hosts several fundraising events at PCMA-hosted gatherings, including GET FIT with the Foundation fitness; Hospitality Helping Hands; Party with a Purpose and the Give Back Bash, as well as its annual Stepping Up Challenge.

SITE Foundation

The SITE Foundation, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit focuses on raising funds that support education and professional development, research and content and grants, scholarships and other activities related to the incentive travel and motivation sector of the meetings industry. It has invested more than $10 million USD since 1987.

Scholarships: The SITE Foundation offers academic scholarships to support higher education studies, as well as David Riddell scholarships to attend the SITE Global Conference. It also manages the Moira Hearn Fund, which provides support for SITE members experiencing financial hardships.

Grants and research support: In addition to chapter grants, which are available on an ad hoc basis to support SITE chapter activities, the SITE Foundation participates in providing industry grants that support project(s) that advance the incentive travel industry. The SITE Foundation also works with the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and Oxford Economics to publish the annual Incentive Travel Index (ITI). In 2021, the foundation established a research partnership with the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. That same year, it launched its InSITE series of white papers.

Funding: Individual donations are welcome at any time, as are in-kind donations for the foundation’s popular silent and live auctions. The foundation’s signature fundraiser is the SITE Classic golf tournament.

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