Membership Hack: Opportunity to Do Good in a Disaster

Due to Hurricane Irma, the Textile Rental Services Association canceled its annual conference in Miami. It gave attendees and sponsors the option to turn their fees into donations for disaster relief.

How to hack it? When a natural disaster causes you to cancel a meeting, what do you do? The Textile Rental Service Association decided it was an opportunity to give back. Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma forced TRSA to cancel its annual conference in Miami.

While registered attendees and sponsors were allowed refunds, they were also given the option to donate a portion or all of their registration and sponsorship fees to local charities. “We wanted to be able to pump some of that money back into the local community, so it can be put to good use,” says Joe Ricci, CAE, president and CEO of TRSA. “We offered members a refund, but more than half of them decided to donate all or a portion of their fees.”

Why does it work? TRSA wanted to find a way to engage members and support disaster relief at the same time. So far, members have donated $125,000 to ongoing hurricane relief efforts. Ricci says he’s working with a group of local members, based in Florida and Texas, to identify local charities.

What’s the bonus? Meetings typically have a lot of leftover goods, and those extras present another opportunity to give, Ricci says. In addition to the funds collected, TRSA donated several hundred attendee-welcome boxes, containing items like water bottles and nonperishable food, to homeless residents in south Florida.

(Julia_Sudnitskaya/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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