Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

Schools are the big winners as companies continue to demonstrate a commitment to corporate social investment (CSI)‚ despite uncertainty and tougher trading conditions in almost every sector of the economy over the past decade.

This is according to Cathy Duff, a director at Trialogue, a consultancy operating in the field.

CSI expenditure in SA was estimated to be worth R8.6bn in 2016‚ significantly up from R2.9bn in 2006‚ Duff told the 10th annual Business in Society Conference that took place in Johannesburg this week.

Discussing trends over the past 10 years‚ Duff shared research in which 82 companies and 219 nonprofit organisations (NPOs) participated in 2016.

Anglo American has retained its position as the company perceived to have the most developmental impact — and was rated first in 2007 and in 2016. Other companies that have been in the top 10 across the years include SAB‚ Old Mutual‚ MTN and Telkom.

Until 2013‚ Trialogue consistently found that total CSI expenditure was growing in real terms. However, in 2014 and 2015‚ CSI expenditure experienced negative growth in real terms‚ and growth was flat in 2016.

Noncash giving as a portion of total CSI spend increased over the 10 year period — from 6% in 2006 to 13% in 2016. Product and service donations accounted for most of this. In 2016‚ 29 companies reported figures for these donations‚ equal to 19% of their total giving.

By comparison‚ 11 companies quantified the value of their employees’ volunteering time‚ which accounted for less than 1% of total giving.

CSI expenditure continues to be concentrated in Gauteng (29% in 2009; 20% in 2016) and the Western Cape (6% in 2009; 11% in 2016). In 2016‚ companies gave to an average of three provinces compared with four in 2015.

Only 13% of respondents reported international giving in 2016 and spent 4% of their CSI expenditure on such interventions.

Education continues to receive the most support‚ with more than 90% of companies supporting the sector in 2016‚ and its share of CSI spend increasing from 33% in 2006 to 48% in 2016.

It is followed by support for community development (17% of CSI spend in 2006; 15% in 2016) and health (which has received a declining share of spend — from 16% in 2006 to 9% in 2016).

Within education‚ most funding continues to go to school-level education (51% in 2016‚ 53% in 2007). Support for early childhood development has increased from 11% of education spend in 2007 to 17% in 2016.

Although nonprofit organisations remained the favourite channel through which corporates directed their CSI expenditure‚ the proportion of respondents giving to nonprofit organisations declined from a high of 100% in 2014 to 82% in 2016.

"For the first time‚ the proportion of CSI funding going to NPOs is below half of total spend (45%)‚ significantly lower than in 2011 (57%)‚" said Duff.

Corporate support for government institutions — including schools‚ universities‚ hospitals and clinics — increased in 2016, with 80% of corporates giving to these organisations‚ which received more than a third of total CSI spend (34%). This was significantly up from 27% in 2011. The support includes scholarships and bursaries.

TMG Digital

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