Corporate Social Investment (CSI) has evolved in leaps and bounds since 1994 with CSI programs in South Africa having developed from purely charitable programs into strategic investment activities directed towards the social development of the country. Managing Executive of The Fish & Chip Co, Marcel Strauss, shares some insights on the concept of CSI and why companies need to be more strategic about it.
CSI can no longer be viewed as a simple charitable donation. It’s more than PR spin to ease the corporate conscience and enhance the brand’s image. All the more companies have noted that social stewardship is a crucial aspect of being responsible leaders in business. By contributing to the real needs of communities that companies operate in, we are able to make a sustainable contribution to the development and economic growth of the country and in the end, play an increasingly vital role in the democratisation of societies.
However, the charitable deeds that we do cannot be executed without proper planning. Even though all companies aim to effect maximal change in the communities that they operate in (whether they do so for their own gain is always debatable), does not mean that they are effective in their approach. CSI involves strategic actions that need to form part of the strategic environment within the company. This will ensure that more sustainable development can be delivered, contributing to real social development and economic growth. By merely being another ‘flash in the pan’ sponsor, what are you really achieving, aside from good PR?
The following needs to be implemented to ensure CSI initiatives are strategic:
- Initiatives need to be aligned to business objectives to ensure that it is in line with the company ethos, vision and mission.
- A formal strategy with objectives and deliverables needs to be in place that serves as a reference point to ensure activities correspond with what the company stands for.
- Internal and external reviews of programs and funding initiatives need to be conducted on an ongoing basis.
- Funds need to be managed responsibly and need to be monitored closely to ensure sustainability of projects.
- Management needs to be actively involved and participate in the planning as well as the execution of initiatives.
All CSI initiatives will of course only be effective if it is driven by the corporate mission and regularly measured, evaluated and adjusted. Lastly, it is vital that there is a good fit between the services of the company and the needs of their beneficiary. As we are in the business of food, we know it is our responsibility to use it as a tool to ease the hunger of the less fortunate in our communities. Whether it is by donating food to a feeding programme, such as the Deo Gloria House in Krugersdorp, or the sponsorship of meals to soccer clinics around Gauteng, we know that our collective efforts will make a sustainable difference in the lives of our communities who also serve us.
Opinion piece shared by PR Worx.