Giving Back

Happy Campers: How a Scavenger Hunt Solved a CSR Dilemma

Destination Nashville’s challenge: to create a CSR scavenger hunt for a pharma company that wouldn’t violate regulatory limits on giving.

When a pharmaceutical company asked Destination Nashville to create a CSR activity to benefit diabetes research for 2,400 participants, the group size was only part of the challenge. The event also had to be held indoors, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, and last just one hour. “Typically with a team-building activity like this, we would like about two-and-a-half hours,” said Margot L. Clark, associate director of operations for Destination Nashville.

Due to federal restrictions barring hospitals and other institutions that serve patients from accepting gifts from pharmaceutical companies, finding a beneficiary was also a tall order. “A member of our creative team actually found this camp for kids that was not really affiliated with any kind of hospital,” said Shannon Bates, MBA, CMP, DMCP, senior sales manager for Destination Nashville.

The Tennessee Camp for Diabetic Children has operated mountain-biking, arts-and-crafts, archery, athletics, canoeing, and swimming programs at the Double G Ranch in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee, for 62 years. “We were so thrilled that they could [accept donated items],” Bates said. “And they had a huge list of needs.”

An indoor scavenger hunt for items on the camp’s wish list was a natural fit for the pharmaceutical group. But while Destination Nashville has quite a bit of experience planning scavenger hunts for groups, this event was in a league of its own. “The size of the group was a major challenge, considering there wasn’t enough space in the hotel for the event. And all the meeting space was being used right up until the time of the team-building [activity],” Clark said. “We allocated resources to dress up the space with banners and signage and décor to bring in elements of fun, so participants didn’t feel like they were just in a meeting room or an exhibit-hall space. Additionally, we had to try to find ways to incorporate unconventional items” — including canoes and mountain bikes, which aren’t easy to “hide” even in a property as vast as the Gaylord Opryland.

Both counselors and campers were on site to welcome attendees and talk about how the camp had made a difference in their lives. Attendees were shown a brief video about the camp, then set loose on their hour-long quest. At the finish line, campers and counselors were waiting onstage.

Every team member signed their name to one of six canoes set up in the room. “And afterwards,” Clark said, they had to take all of the things that they had acquired — pool noodles, games, paddles, and lifejackets — while they were on their hunt, and they piled it all up right in the front of the stage.”

“When [the campers] realized they were actually getting six canoes and all of these iPads and mountain bikes and the trailer to transport the canoes — when they actually saw it with their eyes — they were just so excited,” Bates said. “And it was really touching to just witness that.”

Rx + CSR

When Destination Nashville hosted a scavenger-hunt CSR program for a pharmaceutical company, it had to do some searching of its own. The client wanted an activity that benefited diabetes research, but medical institutions that Destination Nashville approached balked at accepting donations from “Big Pharma.”

Where’s the Sunshine?

The rules have gotten even tougher since Nashville’s CSR event took place last year. The Sunshine Act, part of the larger Affordable Care Act signed into law in 2010, is designed to ensure greater transparency around payments and items of value given to physicians and teaching hospitals. Starting this March, all pharmaceutical and medical-device companies were required to submit reports to the federal government on any money they spent on U.S. health-care professionals at meetings and conferences of any kind — or risk paying up to $1 million in fines.

Kate Mulcrone

Kate Mulcrone is digital editor of Convene.