As consumers become more socially conscious about their shopping habits and where they spend their money, meeting planners could face increasing backlash for planning a meeting in a certain location or hiring a specific vendor that doesn’t meet the values of their attendees. It doesn’t happen often, but what if your host location becomes a news sensation overnight? Publicity is great, unless it’s controversial.

Many meeting planners have had the misfortune to find themselves in such situations and with attendees who are resistant to putting their money where their mouth isn’t — a member of the LGBTIQA+ community in a state that doesn’t support them, for example, or an environmentalist who opposes a vendor’s unsustainable practices.

The options for planners are not good:

  • Risk alienating members, losing attendance or causing reputational harm to the organization’s mission.
  • Cancel or move a meeting, often at substantial expense.
  • Limit the locations under consideration for future conferences based on today’s political climate.

Enter, a nonprofit platform that allows meeting attendees to align their values and their spending. Developed by a volunteer board and volunteer support teams, and fueled by strong industry support, SocialOffset is similar to the carbon offset model. Taxes paid through attendee and event organizer spending at meetings in the U.S. where laws do not align with their values are offset with directed donations to charities that do. Attendees bring their values with them and support local organizations that make a difference in peoples’ lives.

Once an event planner partners with SocialOffset to host an offsetting campaign, 100% of the funds donated by meeting attendees are donated to one or more vetted, local nonprofits that deliver programs, services and advocacy for racial justice, LGBTIQA+ equality, hunger relief, housing security, environmental sustainability and reproductive freedom. 

According to Elena Gerstmann, SocialOffset cofounder and president, “Attendees can be conflicted between needing to engage with their professional and industry networks, and not wanting to support states that have enacted restrictive legislation targeted at specific groups. SocialOffset gives everyone involved a third way. At its most basic level, SocialOffset says ‘no’ to event boycotts and ‘yes’ to making a difference.”

For more information, visit