Business & Industry SA companies spend record R10.7bn on community upliftment, according to 2020 corporate...

SA companies spend record R10.7bn on community upliftment, according to 2020 corporate social investment report

It may have felt like a year you’d rather forget, but despite being hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, South African companies have spent more on uplifting their communities this year than in 2019. Here’s a breakdown of where that money came from and who it benefitted.

According to Corporate Social Investment Company, Trialogue, South African companies spent about R10,7bn on corporate social investment (CSI) in the 2020 financial year – a 1,2% growth from R10,2bn in 2019.

Where did it come from? SA’s top 100 companies accounted for 69% of the total CSI spend (or R7,4bn). These companies operated mainly in three sectors: basic resources (mining, water and forestry), retail, and financial services.  

Non-cash giving initiatives such as products, services, and time accounted for 16% of total the total annual CSI spend.

Response to Covid-19

Almost all companies focused on the health and safety of their staff (99%) and customers (83%) in their response to Covid-19. At least four out of five companies donated to Covid-19-specific responses, with most supporting food security (64%), healthcare (60%), and contributions to the Solidarity Fund (60%). 

Two-thirds took part in multi-stakeholder responses such as government dialogues and industry initiatives.

Almost equal numbers of companies reported increased expenditure (26%), no change in expenditure (21%) or reduced expenditure (21%) during the pandemic, while several companies (13%) reported that expenditure remained the same but was redirected to respond to Covid-19. 

Only 4% of companies ceased or put all CSI funding on hold.

Education the most supported cause

As in previous years, education was the most popular cause, supported by 95% of companies, and receiving half of all CSI expenditure, Trialogue director Cathy Duff said. Social and community development remained the second most supported sector, followed by health, then food security and agriculture. Disaster relief received a relatively small percentage of CSI spend, but many more companies contributed to it this year.

Cathy Duff of Corporate Social Investment Company, Trialogue.

Over half of CSI spend (54%) was allocated to projects with a national footprint. Gauteng was the most supported province in 2020, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and then the Western Cape.

NPOs the main recipients

Non-profit organisations (NPOs) were the main recipients of CSI funding. More than 90% of companies directed an average of 54% of their spend to NPOs.

The next most common recipients were government institutions such as universities, schools, clinics and hospitals. These were funded by 69% of corporates and received on average 25% of companies’ CSI spend.

“The majority of companies (81%) rated ‘moral imperative’ as one of their top three reasons for supporting CSI, with 53% rating it as the top reason. This is consistent with previous years,” Duff said.