An estimated R8.1 billion was spent on CSI in 2015, said Nick Rockey, managing director of Trialogue. Rockey was speaking at the opening of the Trialogue CSI Conference in Johannesburg, on 24 May 2016.
The sector, which experienced an average of 12% real growth between 2004 and 2014, experienced a 1% decline in nominal terms and -6% in real terms, for the first time in 2015.
The theme of this year’s conference was Collaboration for Impact. Highlighting some of the trends within the sector, Rockey noted that collaboration and partnerships are increasingly being sought between NPOs, government, donors, service providers and other stakeholders.
Another interesting development in the sector is innovation in terms of funding, said Rockey. “It’s an exciting space, with a variety of new mechanisms and models coming to the fore.”
Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is another crucial component, which gives companies the ability to track the impact that their CSI in making. “M&E is definitely a higher priority for companies. They want to track the impact of projects and see, is progress being made? Is change being effected?” said Rockey. “The reality is that you can gather the data, but you don’t always find high level insights coming out of that data. The challenge is to have something simple and affordable, and to tease that data apart.”
Education continues to receive the most support, attracting nearly half of CSI spend. The majority of education projects take place at school level, with maths and science being particularly attractive to donors. Much of the funding that is finding its way into the education sector has shifted from healthcare, particularly from organisations working in HIV/AIDS, where government has taken on more responsibility.
ICT (information and communications technology) is still thought to hold a great deal of potential for education and social upliftment, but it should not be seen as a panacea, says Rockey. “There is a lot of exciting stuff happening in the ICT space, but at the same time, we hear of failed projects, with computers lost or stolen or locked away,” he says.
Another trend that came up for discussion, is that of conscious giving, Rockey says, “CSI is sometimes seen as being quite transactional. Understanding the circumstances and conditions of the people you are working with, whose lives will improve.”
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