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South African Corporations Increase CSI Contributions to R11.8 Billion in 2023

Published December 27, 2023
7 months ago

In a year marked by recovery and resilience, South African companies have significantly increased their contributions to Corporate Social Investment (CSI), pouring a commendable R11.8 billion into various social initiatives. This remarkable figure represents an almost billion-rand leap from the R10.9 billion reported in the previous year. The increase showcases the determination of firms to emerge stronger from the catastrophic Covid-19 pandemic and to forge a path toward greater societal impact.

The insights, highlighted in the latest findings by Trialogue in the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, reveal that a substantial 59% of local companies have expanded their social investment portfolios, compared to 36% the year before. This surge in CSI expenditure highlights the commitment of these businesses to not only recover from economic setbacks but also to actively participate in the fabric of societal development.

Corporate South Africa's strategy appears to be more inclined toward integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their operations rather than solely aligning with the goals of the South African National Development Plan (NDP). On average, companies are in sync with 5.6 SDGs, a clear indication of the corporate sector's growing engagement with global developmental agendas. This alignment is particularly strong in support of SDG 4, which concerns quality education, with a striking 84% of companies reporting an affiliation. This shows a national acknowledgment of the critical role education plays in sustainable development and long-term economic growth.

An interesting shift has been seen in the support for SDG 2, which strives for zero hunger, with its corporate alignment climbing from 43% to 63%. Meanwhile, support for SDGs pertaining to health and wellbeing, industry, and clean energy has seen a decline in the same period. This could suggest a strategic refocusing of corporate efforts to address the most pressing issues, particularly in the wake of the pandemic.

The Trialogue report underscores the fact that education remains a preferred domain for CSI spending, with 78% of firms contributing towards this sector. The average spending on education increased to 48% this year, up from 44% the previous year. The inclination towards education signifies a common belief in its fundamental role in empowering individuals and communities, leading to broader societal upliftment.

There has also been notable corporate enthusiasm for social and community development initiatives along with food security and agriculture, signaling a broad approach to societal impact. Interestingly, despite the critical nature of health and social services, these sectors attracted a relatively meager 6% of the total CSI outlay. Environmental initiatives lagged even further behind, only procuring a minimal 3% of the budget.

Non-profit organisations (NPOs) have remained the predominant beneficiaries of corporate generosity, scooping up 84% of the total CSI funds. The business sector decisively prefers channeling their investments through NPOs, presenting an average of 63% spending in that direction. Moreover, there has been a rise in support extended to social enterprises, potentially hinting at a growing recognition of their role in sustainable community development.

Amidst the generous cash donations, non-cash giving has also played a valuable part in CSI engagement. More than half of the companies reported contributing via products, services, or volunteering. Non-cash donations hold an essential place in the overall scheme of social investment, as they often provide direct assistance and involve active community engagement from corporate participants.

As South African corporations set a commendable example with burgeoning CSI initiatives, their endeavors are a promising testament to the potential for corporate influence in societal betterment.

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