Companies spent an estimated R10.2 billion on corporate social investment (CSI) in South Africa in 2019 – a 5% year-on-year increase in rand terms (2018: R9.7 billion). This growth was flat when taking inflation into account, reflecting a subdued economy. This, according to findings from the 22nd edition of the annual Trialogue Business in Society Handbook which was launched in Johannesburg today (27 November 2019).

R6.9 billion invested by top 100 companies

For the first time in 2019, the retail and wholesale sector accounted for the largest portion of CSI expenditure (22%). This could be due to the increasing value of product donations. The mining and quarrying (previously the largest sector) and financial services sectors were the second and third-largest contributors, respectively. Together, these three sectors accounted for 57% of CSI expenditure in 2019, down slightly from previous years.

CSI expenditure remained concentrated with the top 100 companies (by CSI spend) accounting for 68%, or R6.9 billion, of total CSI expenditure. Of the total R6.9 billion spent by the top 100 companies, almost two-thirds (59%) was spent by the 19 companies whose CSI expenditure was more than R100 million in 2019. 

Fewer companies reported increased CSI expenditure in 2019

Just over half of all surveyed companies (56%) reported increased CSI expenditure in 2019, down from almost two-thirds in 2017 and 2018. A quarter of companies (24%) reported decreased expenditure, consistent with survey findings in 2018, and down from 2016 when over a third of companies reported decreases. 

Education continued to receive the most corporate support

Education was supported by 94% of companies and accounted for an average of half of companies’ CSI spend (50%) in 2019, up from 44% in 2018. Social and community development remained the second most supported sector and health the third, with 77% and 51% of companies funding these sectors respectively. However, food security and agriculture received a greater average percentage of CSI expenditure (9%) than health (7%) for the first time. The proportion of companies supporting disaster relief increased significantly, from 28% in 2018 to 41% in 2019. However, only 2% of companies’ CSI funds were directed to the sector. Environmental causes also saw increased support, from 30% to 38% of companies, and from a very low 2% of average companies’ CSI spend in 2018 to 5% in 2019.

Non-profits remained the most popular recipient of CSI funding

Ninety percent of companies gave to non-profit organisations (NPOs) in 2019. The average proportion of CSI funding directed to NPOs was 54% of spend. The next most common recipient was government institutions (including schools, universities, hospitals and clinics), which were funded by 72% of companies and received an average of 29% of companies’ CSI expenditure in 2019. Funding of, and average expenditure on, government departments decreased slightly to 18% and 4% respectively.

Company-organised volunteering common among corporates but least popular among NPOs

Consistent with previous years, the majority of participating companies (81%) had formal employee volunteer programmes (EVPs) in 2019. Of those with EVPs, more than half (58%) had volunteering policies. Seventeen companies (27%, n=64) stated that employee volunteering time was quantified and included as part of their total CSI spend. However, only 12 companies (15% of the total sample) provided the data when disclosing total CSI spend. Across these 12 companies, the average value of employee volunteering time donated during working hours was just over R640 000.

Companies supported an average of four different types of employee involvement in 2019. The most common type was company-organised volunteering initiatives, offered by 92% of respondents. Companies most commonly (44%) held four or more company-organised volunteering initiatives per year, while 24% limited these initiatives to Mandela Day only. Despite this type of initiative being the least popular among NPOs, it was the most common form of volunteerism support received by NPOs (58%), followed by fundraising and collection drives (54%).

In addition to detailed analysis on the state of CSI in South Africa, the 2019 Handbook provides an overview of global trends and insights on the role of business in society; in-depth profiles of corporate approaches to, and lessons in, development; and a range of thought-provoking articles that explore some of the ways that business can be responsive to the most pervasive needs of our time and contribute to systemic shifts towards greater inclusion and equity.

The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2019 can be freely downloaded or purchased in hard copy from the Trialogue website. 

Note to editors

About the research

Between May and August 2019 professional researchers conducted face-to-face interviews with CSI representatives from large South African companies. Companies also had the option of self-completing the questionnaire, which was then verified by the researchers. There were 79 participating companies. Of these, 56 (71%) also participated in 2018. The surveyed companies were large, with most (85%) having an annual income of over R1 billion in their latest full financial year, and half having an income of over R10 billion. Almost half of the companies (48%) employed 5 000 people or more, with 18% having more than 20 000 staff members.

Information was also collected from NPOs between June and July 2019, using the online survey tool, SurveyMonkey. A total of 139 NPOs participated in the 2019 research. Of these, just under a third (31%, or 43 organisations) also participated in 2018. More than half of all participating NPOs (55%) were small organisations with an income of less than R2 million. Three-quarters of them employed fewer than 30 staff.


About Trialogue

Trialogue, the publisher of the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, is a niche consulting firm with over 20 years of experience in CSI and sustainability. We have extensive experience working with clients in the private and public sectors to enhance the development and business outcomes of their socioeconomic programmes. We are a 51% black-owned company and the southern African local authority of the US-based Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP) Global Exchange.

Issued by:                     Meropa Communications
On behalf of:                 Trialogue
Meropa Communications: Judy Bryant 021 6836464 | 083 2867168 |
Trialogue: Zyaan Davids Anter 021 671 1640 |   

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