It is, I suppose, an indication of our maturing as a society, when corporations come on-board as sponsors for disability charities and their specific projects. Our conceptions of success and wealth are, perhaps, broadening to include a social responsibility toward those within our communities who cannot run, jump, swim or play at record breaking levels. Corporations have traditionally wanted to be associated only with winners; individuals and winning teams. Buy our product or service and you are part of a winning team. Bank with us and you are supporting your football code. The reality has always been that the vast majority of able bodied community members do not physically excel at anything themselves, but the archetypal illusion of the garlanded Olympic champion lives on in our collective dreams.
Helping those less fortunate has, in the past, been the shared province of church and state. More church when they were at the helm, and as their executive power has waned, government social services have come to the fore. Now, however, in a few cases we see corporations getting involved in things like the Paralympics. Sponsors of this event worldwide include: Toyota, VISA, Samsung, Panasonic, BP, Allianz, Atos and ottobock. Although, this is still an elite sporting event, which has been transposed to the world of disabled athletes. The message remains we honour those who can run the fastest, jump the highest and so on. Success is predicated on being the best within certain prescribed parameters.
Finding Corporate Sponsorship for Disability Projects
In many instances corporate sponsorship for disability projects is the result of certain passionate individuals driving those projects through their association with that disability; usually because a family member or close friend has that disability. And now, we are seeing courageous individuals with disabilities breaking out of isolation and driving change themselves. No longer as marginalised, these impassioned individuals are crossing the line and reaching out. Often, things like this need strong motivation to succeed in crossing boundaries. Corporations do not traditionally identify themselves with those who are not highly successful; unless the corporation itself operates in the charitable field. Things are, however, beginning to change; as society becomes more inclusive, recognising those of its members with disability as valid human beings. The definition of success may just be broadening to include those who manage a life without the usual support of a fully functioning body or mind. Overcoming adversity and living a rich life, which includes disability but is not purely defined by it.
What things can we then offer a corporate sponsor to encourage them to get aboard? In marketing terms, logos on websites, invitations, brochures and all that usual stationary. Official acknowledgement at all social gatherings and plenty of gracious charm wherever possible. Social media can also be a valuable platform for cross-referencing corporate sponsorship of disabled projects and events. Regular mentions on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram can be very valuable as a reminder to all stakeholders of the importance of this corporate sponsorship. Finding corporate sponsorship for disability projects can be challenging, but ultimately is very rewarding for all parties involved. The twenty first century may just be the era of real inclusiveness; and we as a society can begin to honour greater things than mere sporting achievements.