5 Worst Mistakes When Planning Charity Team Building Events

5 Worst Mistakes When Planning Charity Team Building EventsIn today’s rapidly evolving corporate landscape, charity team building events aren’t just a hiatus from daily work routines.

They’re crucial for nurturing team work, bolstering effective communication, and cultivating a thriving team culture. In other words: they help your team remember how to work together again! Where these events really make a profound difference, however, is with charity team-building activities.

Not only do they facilitate team bonding, they also help your organization fulfill their corporate social responsibility. Plus, working toward a common goal—such as making a charitable donation to a good cause—is something all of your employees can get behind.

The real question, then, is how do you pull of a successful charity team-building program?

It does demand some thorough planning, an understanding of team dynamics, and a genuine connection to the charitable cause. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered a handful of organizations make some mistakes in executing their team building events. When done incorrectly, it’ll leave team members feeling disengaged—potentially leaving them with a bad taste in their mouth the next time they hear the words “team building.”

That’s not to say it’s impossible to run a team building event on your own, just that it’s very easy to make mistakes—especially when people underestimate how much preparation and work it takes.

Fortunately, we’re experts on charity team building events, so we can tell you what to look out for. Below are 5 of the most common mistakes we see when people take team building into their own hands.

Mistake #1: Not Enlisting the Help of a Local Charity

Here’s a common slip-up: not teaming up with a local charity.

It’s an amazing way to reinforce the fact that the activity is in the name of charity. It’s what gives your teams a common goal to keep in mind during the entire event. And without it, the team might forget about the greater good and be left wondering, “What was the point?”

Let’s get into why this happens, the downsides, and how to flip the script for a way cooler experience.

What You Miss Out On:

  • Impact Feels MIA: Without seeing the actual difference your event makes, it’s just another day at the office. Yawn.
  • Memories? What Memories?: Games at work are a fun activity, but forgettable. Now, making a real difference for a worthy cause? That sticks with you. Especially when the charity is able to bring in a representative to explain the impact the donation has.
  • Not seeing the person you’re impacting: Even better is if you’re able to coordinate to have the actual subject of your donation to appear at the event. This is something we do all the time with our Build-A-Bike® charity team building events.

Why We Miss the Mark:

  • Who Knew?: Lots of times, organizers don’t even realize linking up with a charity is a thing. Or they think it’s too hard.
  • Big Fish, Small Pond: When selecting the charity of your choice, don’t think you have to go with the big-name groups. There are plenty of smaller, local non-profit organizations, volunteer programs, and animal shelters to choose from.
  • Going Virtual: Virtual charity team building activities might be a great way to get the remote team together, but it will be more difficult to get the full emotional impact through the screen.

Making It Right:

  • Pick a Local Cause: Find a charity that’s all about something your team cares about. Small, local groups are a good bet. The benefit of going with something smaller, like a local children’s charity, is it can sometimes be easier to coordinate your team building event with them.
  • Bring Them to You: If you can, have someone from the charity swing by your event. Hearing about the difference you’re making straight from the source? Priceless.
  • Look for Inspiration: Check out events like our Build-A-Bike or Rescue Bear®, where we make the donation items as part of the game. There’s no way your team can forget impact of their charitable donation when they directly have their hands on it!

By bringing a local charity into the mix, you’re not just checking a box. It’s a great way to make your event genuinely memorable and way more impactful. Trust me, your team will feel the difference.

Mistake #2: Making It Just Another Service Project

So, you’ve got this charity event lined up, but it ends up feeling like just another task on the to-do list.

Oops, we’ve stumbled into Mistake #2: making the event feel more like work than an actual team-building experience. Let’s dive into why this mix-up happens and how we can shake things up for the better.

The Downside:

  • All Work, No Play: If your event feels like just another job, the whole team-building magic fizzles out. It’s supposed to be fun, remember?
  • “Do I Have To?”: When folks feel they’re just ticking a box, the enthusiasm meter hits low. They might end up enjoying it, but the initial vibe is off.
  • It’s Just Not Team Building: It’s commendable to have your organization take on community service hours, we’re not disputing that. However, having people sign up for volunteer service doesn’t have the same direct impact on your team members as a proper team building event would.

Why It Happens:

  • Misguided Goals: Some think it’s all about the manual labor (like bike building) and miss the bigger picture. It’s not just about the bikes, people!
  • Two Birds, One Stone?: Trying to blend community service with team bonding sounds efficient but can end up feeling forced. It’s about the experience, not just the output.
  • Experience Overlooked: The reason events like Build-A-Bike® get rave reviews? It’s the experience, not just the task. That part often gets lost in translation.

Fixing the Vibe:

  • Fun First: Aim for an event that’s more about bonding and less about box-ticking.
  • Game On: Invent a fun game that ties the charity element directly into the fun. For example, our Amazing Builders game makes use of school supplies as both the item of donation and an essential part of the game.
  • Accessible: Make sure it’s something that everyone can get into. Something that requires physical endurance, exposure to the outdoors, or any kind of physical burden might make it difficult for the entire team to partake.

By reimagining your event to be more about the experience and less about just getting another job done, you’re setting the stage for a truly memorable team-building day. It’s about creating moments that stick, all while making a positive impact. Now that’s a win-win.

Mistake #3: Cramming Too Many Activities Into One Event

Ever been to an event that tried to cram a week’s worth of activities into one afternoon?

Yep, that’s Mistake #3: trying to do too much in one go. This is like the event equivalent of an overstuffed sandwich – it’s just too much to handle. Let’s break down why this happens and how to keep things chill but effective.

Why It’s a Buzzkill:

  • Impact Goes Poof: When you pack too much in, the whole point of the event (like the charity part) gets lost in the shuffle.
  • Restless Crowd: Too much going on? People check out. They start thinking about their next coffee break instead of what’s happening.
  • Easy to Forget the Team Building Goals: When the event has no focus, it just feels like another part of work instead of an opportunity to explore new ways to work together.

The Why Behind the Whoops:

  • Overachievers Unite: Sometimes, we’re just too eager. We think more activities = more fun. Or, we simply think it’s a great opportunity to fit in a lot of different ideas. Neither make for a fun event.
  • Energy Limits: Everyone’s got a battery life, and it’s usually less than we think for group stuff. Overdo it, and you’ll see the energy drain fast.
  • Fancy Doesn’t Mean Impactful: It might seem like a good chance to throw in awards, speeches, or other ways to celebrate your team, but it can actually distract from the main event.

How to Keep It Cool:

  • Plan With Purpose: Know what you want out of the event. Stick to the script to make sure it stays meaningful. Remember that the point of charitable team-building programs is the charity activity, so don’t try to cram in other activities that stray too far from the topic.
  • Time Is Precious: Keep it short and sweet. An hour’s good, but adjust based on how many folks you’ve got. Big crowd? Keep it even tighter.
  • Focus, Focus, Focus: Don’t try to catch up on everything you’ve been missing. Stick to the main event and make it count.

Keeping your charity event focused and straightforward doesn’t mean boring. It means everyone’s energy is right where it should be – on making a difference and building those team vibes.

in our experience, one of the best times for charity team building workshops and activities are in between events at team retreats, summits, and national sales meetings.

Mistake #4: Not Prioritizing the Charity Aspect Enough

We’ve talked about what happens when you make the event only about charity. And then we talked about the missed opportunity of not getting the charity of your choice involved.

Here in Mistake #4, we’re talking about what happens when you almost forget about the charitable event entirely. It would be like throwing a party for your grandma and then having her sit in the corner while everyone else has fun and plays games… ouch. It would be a “charity team building activity” in name only.

So let’s get into what happens when you make the event all about the game without connecting it back to the purpose of the game in the first place.

What You Lose:

  • Impact Who?: If the team can’t see the connection between the fun and the cause, the deeper meaning gets lost. It turns into just another day of games.
  • Values? What Values?: This slip-up also means missing a prime chance to show off what your company stands for. It’s about more than just fun. It’s about making a statement.
  • No Common Goal: Part of what makes corporate charity events like this so powerful is they have your team united for a common goal. Without that, it’ll be tough to get them in the mindset of working for a greater cause.

Why It Slips Through:

  • Big Picture, Small Frame: Sometimes, we’re so caught up in the event details that we forget to zoom out and see how it all fits together with our charity goals.
  • Values MIA: If your company’s still figuring out its core values, it can be tough to align your event with them. But hey, better late than never to start thinking about this stuff.

Making the Match:

  • Start With Values: Kick things off by figuring out what your organization stands for. Then, pick a charity that aligns with those values. It’s like matchmaking but for a good cause.
  • Integrate, Don’t Decorate: Make the charity part of the event’s DNA. Donating bikes? Make the build part of the fun. Big donation? Turn it into a team competition to “earn” the donation through challenges.

By weaving the charity element directly into the fabric of your event, you’re ensuring it’s not just another day at the office. Instead, it becomes a powerful moment that reinforces your team’s values and makes the impact of their efforts crystal clear.

Mistake #5: Not Properly Planning for Large Groups

Heading into the final stretch with Mistake #5: not having a pro in charge of wrangling groups larger than a posse.

Imagine trying to herd cats, but the cats are your colleagues, and the room is the Wild West. Yeah, it can get messy. Let’s break down why this oversight turns your well-intended event into a bit of a rodeo and how to lasso it back into something awesome.

The Chaos Unleashed:

  • Disorganized Much?: Big groups without a clear leader? That’s a recipe for confusion and chaos. People start doing their own thing, and not in a good way.
  • Follow the Leader… If You Can Find One: Without someone experienced holding the mic, folks start to zone out, form cliques, and miss out on the big picture.

Why It Happens:

  • Underestimation Station: Often, we think, “How hard can it be?” Famous last words. Managing a big crowd is a skill, not a side gig.
  • DIY Gone Wrong: Trying to save a few bucks by not hiring a pro can backfire. You might be great at your job, but event management is a whole other beast.
  • Team Dynamics 101: Not all of us are experts on how groups tick. Large gatherings need more than just good intentions; they need structure and engagement strategies.

Taming the Beast:

  • Call in the Cavalry: A pro speaker or event coordinator can make all the difference. They know how to keep the energy up and the crowd focused.
  • Break It Down: Use ice breakers or smaller group activities to prevent folks from just clustering up with their work besties. It’s about mixing it up and making new connections.
  • Keep It Snappy: The larger the group, the shorter the attention span. Keep activities tight and to the point. Long-winded speeches? Save them for your memoirs.

By sidestepping this pitfall and bringing in someone who knows how to handle a crowd, you’re ensuring your event doesn’t turn into a free-for-all. Instead, it becomes a well-orchestrated symphony of teamwork, charity, and engagement. And that’s a wrap on how to avoid the top 5 mistakes that can take your charity team building event from “meh” to “amazing.”


That brings us to the end of our deep dive into the 5 mistakes that can sideline your charity team-building event. Remember, it’s all about preparation, intention, and the right execution. Avoid these pitfalls, and you’re on your way to creating an event that’s memorable for all the right reasons. Go out there, make an impact, and build your team stronger than ever.

Need Help With a Charity Team Build Event? Fill Out the Form or Call Us at (800) 872-7830.