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Event Giveaways for a Cause

Almost all events have some type of swag or giveaway involved in them. Whether it’s for all attendees or if it’s a raffle for one lucky winner, giveaways are a strong contender in the event industry, but we’re seeing a big change in what these giveaways involve.

Whereas in the past, attendees have preferred branded tangible gifts they can take home with them, attendees now prefer charity-driven giveaways that give back to the community in one way or another. Here’s a look at a couple of our favorites so far: 

At the WBENC Conference in June, all attendees at a reception were given a Donors Choose gift card which enabled them to go online to DonorsChoose.org and choose a classroom or project that they could put their preloaded gift card towards. Instead of trying to fit a branded water bottle or endless supply of pens in their carry-on, attendees were able to jump online and donate before they left the conference or could put the gift card in their wallet to use after they got through the onsite bustle.

Another giveaway we’ve seen in the working: the Glassybaby. Glassybaby is a Seattle based company who gives back 10% of all sales to the glassybaby white light fund which gives financial and emotional assistance to those in need. These ornate and unique gifts are very popular for west coast events and are a hit with high-level executives.

Any others we should be on the lookout for? Tell us in the comments below! 

For more information on either of these giveaways, please go to their websites: http://www.donorschoose.org/  http://glassybaby.com/ 

The Challenge of SWAG

Everyone struggles to find that perfect SWAG (stuff we all get) item to give away at events.

Last fall, we were given a challenge from one of our clients- to find some gift options for their upcoming technology event. They wanted the focus to be on unique items, San Francisco-centric gifts if possible, and swag items that were wearable or fashion related. There were 2 types of attendees at this event which took place in San Francisco; judges and participants. With help from our many vendor partners, we came up with these winning ideas:

For Judges:

  • California designer passport cover
  • Bottle of wine from a local California vineyard
  • Ghirardelli chocolate that supports local San Francisco non-profit
  • High quality mini speaker


For Participants:

  • Proof brand sunglasses made from sustainably sourced wood
  • Online subscription to tech magazine
  • Leather luggage tag
  • Vintage San Francisco post card set
  • Ghirardelli’s chocolate Golden Gate Bridge
  • Dowdle painting puzzle of San Francisco
  • Recycled felt laptop bag


Do you have any items that you would add to our list? Comment below! 

Milligan Events, ECPAT-USA Partner to Fight Against Human Trafficking

Milligan Events owner, Janell McGill, signs The Code.

Last week, we took the next step in actively pledging to fight against human trafficking by signing The Code this week with ECPAT-USA at an industry-related seminar hosted by Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) Washington State Chapter in Bellevue, WA.

ECPAT-USA is a member of the internationally recognized ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) organization who developed the tourism child-protection code of conduct as set of business principles adopted by travel and tourism related companies to specifically combat child sex trafficking. This action is just one example of Milligan Events’ ongoing commitment to social responsibility.

Nearly 21 million people around the world are victims of modern day slavery. In the U.S. alone, at least 100,000 of those victims are American children. In the past, human trafficking took place primarily on the streets, but today, those operations have expanded with the use of technology and the internet.  Traffickers move across cities and countries using air and ground transportation companies, targeting events, hotels and other venues as places to abuse and sell their victims, without the knowledge of the companies hosting events or the respective hotels and venues. As more companies sign The Code, awareness is on the rise and local law enforcement agencies have learned the necessity of protecting these children, the real victims.

“Businesses can play an important role in this vital call to action by including a strong policy against sex trafficking of children in their employee code of conduct,” said Janell McGill, owner of Milligan Events.  “Statistics show many buyers initiate their transactions on company time and equipment or at company sponsored events, which creates legal risks as well as risks to reputation.  Discussing this growing problem and establishing more vigilant practices to detect it are paramount.” 

McGill further added, “As compassionate global citizens and a concerned partner in a targeted industry, we are committed to doing everything in our power to stop child sex trafficking.  It is closer to home than many realize and is a pandemic that needs to be eradicated.”

Photo of signing by Alabastro Photography (left to right: Michelle Guelbart, Janell McGill)

Rethinking the Optimal Session Length

Some sources say that the average adult’s attention span is 20 minutes, others say it’s down to 5 minutes, and many claim it’s just 8 seconds—literally less than that of a goldfish. With a push to shorten meetings in the recent past, do event professionals need to rethink the length of sessions?

The 45-minute meeting movement was introduced in 2010 and focused on everyday meetings, but it hasn't quite hit the event world yet. The movement was a push to shorten hour-long meetings to 45 minutes, to increase productivity.  Participants would be able to use those 15 minutes to review meeting notes from the prior meeting, prepare for any upcoming meetings and perhaps even arrive to their next meeting on time! With 15 minutes to regroup, the days of employees coming late to meetings feeling frazzled and leaving with more questions than answers are numbered. Making time to recap and disseminate key takeaways is important for not only our everyday meetings, but also our annual conferences and events.

So how would that effect the event industry? If we’re going to look at shortening sessions, we’ll need to know our audience mix. Millenials on one hand, favor making sessions shorter, more meaningful and relevant to their ability to be more successful.  They also have a tendency to oppose ice-breaker activities as well as monotonous introductions while Baby Boomers seem more tolerant of formal meetings and are more apt to follow protocol. When it comes to finding the optimal session length, you really need to understand your target audience, how inclined they are to actively participate, and what you want them to do with the information they've acquired.

As an attendee, maybe you can answer the outstanding question: What is the ideal session length? (Or, did we lose you at 8 seconds?)