By Paula Beadle
In less than a week, the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games open in Seattle, Washington. For 50 years, the Games have showcased the abilities of athletes with intellectual disabilities, promoted the ideals of acceptance and inclusion through sport, and celebrated the transformative power of the Special Olympics.
As a nonprofit organization, the Special Olympics USA Games relies heavily on the generous support of corporations and foundations to bring their vision of inclusiveness and acceptance to reality. The fact is that without those critical sponsorships, the Games would not exist.
For corporations like Microsoft, Amazon and T-Mobile, partnering with a mission-based organization like the Games makes great business sense. More than ever, employees and consumers are demonstrating that it’s not enough for companies to remain neutral, they expect companies to take a position and most importantly to “do good.” They care about supporting businesses that are aligned with their personal values.
I have served as the Chief Revenue Officer of the USA Games and have worked side by side with a talented team who has connected brands large and small with the USA Games and the Special Olympics movement for the past two years. Those companies are experiencing the power of partnering with a mission-based organization in unique and important ways.
As the Special Olympics USA Games are about to begin in Seattle, I am grateful for the generosity Seattle’s most admired companies have demonstrated. The corporate sponsors have made the Games possible and as citizens and consumers we should applaud and reward those companies who share our values and support our community in such significant ways.
Sponsorship is also good business – the intersection between an event and social good is powerful when implemented correctly. Certainly, companies have reasons for investing in sponsorship beyond the usual business benefits, but it’s valuable to understand the most common opportunities companies are seeking and in this case how the benefits are being used to support the USA Games athletes, fans, and community.
1. Employee Engagement. Companies need to declare and express their values and provide opportunities for employees to align with those values. Employee participation elevates employee satisfaction, comradery, and experience. Kaiser Permanente has organized hundreds of volunteers to provide athletes with a health and wellness screening.
2. Recognition and Visibility. Companies receive well deserved recognition by supporting events. Coca-Cola as an example, masterfully merchandises by providing valuable products and services that enhance the visitor experience.
3. Audience Interaction. Sponsorship provides the most effective way to directly engage with the audience and have an authentic conversation. Microsoft led the development of a Job Fair at the USA Games to recruit, hire, and retain people with intellectual disabilities – a continuation of their efforts and commitment.
4. Showcase Products and Service. Event sponsorships provide an opportunity for companies to demonstrate their products and services in a unique environment, while supporting the organizations mission. Amazon is supporting fundraising efforts by making it possible to contribute by simply asking Alexa to make a donation. T-Mobile is hosting a Text to Donate campaign and Accenture is showcasing technology through the development of a USA Games app.
5. Demonstrate Values: Supporting a mission-based organization in a meaningful way expresses and demonstrates a company’s values. The Future of Inclusion Forum aligns perfectly with the commitment f5 has made to support inclusive communities and workplaces.
Sponsorship is good business – for the community, mission-driven organizations, and companies.