For a long time our industries and even social lives—in fact our society at large—was defined by rigid relationships, specialisation and to an extent isolation. A man had his role in society, for example, and a woman had hers. Doctors didn’t mix with plumbers socially, and people often belonged to social clubs and organisations like hiking clubs, or local bands. In the economy was this segregation especially palpable. Where today we usually just go to a supermarket to get all our food, in the past one would have gone to the baker’s for bread, to the butcher’s for meat and so on and so on.
In the 20th century however, a break-down of these structures occurred and organisations and companies—and individual people—began broadening their expertise and interests. Companies today routinely operate in more than one market, and in the past decade or two many are even getting involved in not-for-profit activities like supporting local sports teams or charities.
With what some are calling a new expectation of individuals and companies, many businesses are donating a portion of their profits to the local communities in which they operate. Large multinational companies nowadays almost always have Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR programmes. While the companies benefit themselves from positive press coverage as well as being seen as a positive factor in local communities, the idea behind CSR is that these large companies provide funds or other resources to improve the quality of life where they conduct their business.
Large companies like Coca-Cola and Microsoft, for example, donate money to sports clubs in areas where they have large factories or offices. But it’s not exclusive to larger companies. In the UK small- and medium-sized companies like WaveCrest, a telecommunications company, support local organisations.
WaveCrest not only supports local sports teams, but also local charities. Such public-private partnerships, where companies support local teams are becoming increasingly common as larger clubs consolidate and amateur organisations have to look to donations to keep their operations running.
Partnerships between private for-profit companies and sports teams and charities, are not uncommon. Fortunately for the clubs and charities that are supported, WaveCrest is not alone in its actions. Some companies’ relationships go beyond the merely transactional. Clothing company Athleta, owned by American garment giant Gap, has an exclusive relationship with Girls on the Run. The charity inspires and encourages young girls to live joyful, healthy, and self-confident lives through running. Of course they also organise events such as competitions and camps in order to facilitate achieving their goals.
Sponsorship has been round for most of human history. In ancient Greece, wealthy citizens had to sponsor ships of war, for example, during times of conflict. So, while sponsorship may be nothing new the way in which companies are broadening their operations and core competences to make societies better places is a new and positive force acting on countries across the world.