Why Are Businesses Sponsoring Paralympic Athletes?

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It may not always have monetary foundations, but philanthropy is a business model. Sponsorship can often mean synergy with a brand, a person or a cause, and hand in hand with those come values a business can adopt. Below Steve Huxter, Chief Operating Officer at ByBox, delves into the benefits and principles behind the sponsorship of Paralympic athletes.

London 2012 was a game-changer for Paralympic sport. It created a lasting ripple effect for para Sports through Rio 2016 and more recently, the World Para Athletics Championships in London. It has become very clear to the British public that para athletes represent courage, determination and equality, and this has generated deep affection and pride in them.

These same values are those that organisations the world over would like to be identified with, and inspire in others. There are many advantages in sponsoring a Paralympian, to both the sport and the patron business. The inclusive nature of such a relationship not only supports the athlete, but also positively impacts and inspires employees as well as being a huge benefit to the brand itself.

Our sponsorship with David Smith, a British adaptive rower who won a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics, came about after watching a TV documentary which touched on his story. From there we found ourselves not just inspired by his story, but also noticing that David embodied much of what we strive to achieve at ByBox.

David is resilient, tenacious and committed to pushing his potential. Following the programme, we got in contact to discuss whether David needed sponsorship and how our company could assist. This conversation sparked a partnership with David. We looked at how we could support him financially as well as in other ways such as promotion. We quickly found that the partnership was mutually beneficial.

We’ve already witnessed how motivating it is to have such an athlete as part of the business. Colleagues have responded well to meeting David, particularly when we’ve hosted him in our offices to share his story, personal challenges and victories. His personality and drive are infectious, attributes that you can’t help but respond well to and ones that we encourage in our own staff.

David includes us in every step of his journey towards Tokyo in 2020. Regular updates are shared on our internal platform, OneByBox. Colleagues are engaged with and following David’s training and progress, allowing them to share and celebrate each success, both online and face-to-face.

This kind of accessibility to David as well as the exposure in and outside of the business, enables our colleagues to feel part of his success and provides an emotional feel-good factor. The media coverage we are also able to share together is a wonderful combination of our brand being able to support such a great person and for David to utilise our own marketing resources.

It’s a great match for our company and for David. We support the training, promotions, business support and networking opportunities, and advertise sponsorship of other UK Paralympic athletes to UK businesses. We are able to associate our brand with a positive force and use David’s ambitions and can-do attitude to motivate our own colleagues.

The synergy between our business and David backs our company values and CSR strategy. It lets our colleagues feel like they are part of his successes, and that they support someone who has refused to let setbacks stop him from achieving his dreams.

Aside from funding, one of the biggest challenges for sportspeople can be the transition into different employment at the end of their sporting careers. This can also be a really stressful time for an athlete. If they have the opportunity to build key employment skills through a supportive sponsor while also training, they develop self-confidence in their abilities beyond the sport, and can welcome the transition as less of a threat, more of an opportunity.

For each of our company benefits, David benefits too. He is now keen to encourage other businesses to back Paralympians. There is no better spokesperson for why other British businesses should be backing para athletes than David himself: “Para athletes in particular can bring so much to a business, well beyond the obvious tale about overcoming adversity. One of the biggest issues to any business is managing change – this is an area where para sportspeople have great experience especially when it comes to thriving in challenging times.

“I would encourage anyone to see the potential in more British businesses partnering with the country’s para athletes as a journey of mutual benefit – one which can inspire a business as a whole, as well as supporting future sporting success on the global stage.”

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