“It is a real watershed moment” says Steve Dilworth, UK Membership Director from Foresters - an international mutual organisation whose focus is on its 945,000 members, their families and their communities.
“For many viewers it is the brutal truth that it may have been difficult in the past to watch people with disabilities. However, these Games have shown that people can achieve great feats of endurance and performance, and have been able to overcome the most severe of disadvantages.
“According to studies* many disability charities are now planning to expand their advertising in social media to increase their fundraising and to raise awareness. This is potentially a once in a lifetime opportunity for charities in the disabled sector to build a lasting legacy of support and change.
“There is no doubt that there have been significant improvements in the positive attitude of people and their relationships with disabled individuals and charities. And it's not just about fundraising - the Games have breathed fresh life into the concept of volunteering, too.
“Our own pre-Games research** has shown that older age groups were far more likely to volunteer than younger ones: 52% of over 65's compared with 31% of 21-30 year olds. In part this is a result of greater availability of time but now with the Games volunteers drawn across a very wide range of ages, everyone has seen how the volunteers both enjoyed themselves and made a real difference. So these trends may change.
“For charities in the disability sector there has always been huge difficulties with obtaining direct volunteer assistance; people have been willing to give money but less likely to give their time unless they have been personally affected by a disability issue. The Paralympics should certainly improve this mindset as it has appealed to a broader age range and also shown that disability can have positive outcomes.”
The previous study** has shown that despite the popularity of charities such as Help for Heroes, disability charities have not previously featured high on the list of charities supported by donors, showing that:
• charities looking for a cure appeal to 59% of consumers;
• those focusing on children - 44%
• and, animals or community issues at 37% and 38% respectively.
Mr. Dilworth explains: “Disability donors came a little further down the list. However, with the highlighted awareness of the Paralympics, it appears that things are set to change. Quite simply, Paralympics champions and competitors have shown that disability does need to have the same stigma it had attached to it in the past. We hope that their achievements can now filter down into increasing fundraising and volunteering efforts to make sure that the legacy of the London Games burns brightly for a long time to come."
*Marketing Week 13.09.12
** Foresters and Wriglesworth PR, April 2012