Impact SA

Why CSI isn’t where you should be skimping

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Now that the 2021 budget is out, it has become clear that economic recovery is the name of the game, says Charlene Lackay, CSI group manager for Momentum Metropolitan. Lackay says that the focus remains on formal industries and the private sector, but there’s little mention of the role that NPOs play in providing skills that unlock economic growth. 

If your NPO was not involved in healthcare to any degree, it was likely extremely difficult for you to stay afloat without some serious pivoting. On the other hand, NPOs who have been able to invest in their own sustainability could weather the storm, though this is easier said than done — especially in this sector.

And those that have good governance, strong and transparent partner relations, as well as strong leadership, will weather it even better. 

Critical services now at even bigger risk

In September 2020, social investment fund manager and advisor Tshikululu released the results of a survey that unpacked the impact of Covid-19 on NPOs in South Africa.

It found that 66% of respondents had seen a decline in income with 35% having had to either reduce working hours, temporarily lay off staff or cut salaries. Luckily, only a small number (10%) went into full staff retrenchments.

If you think about the critical services NPOs deliver and how big the NPO sector is, then losses in terms of jobs and services to the poor — and the knock-on effect of this on the broader economy is just scary. To put it in perspective, there are around 220 000 NPOs registered in South Africa.

Corporates have opportunity to support NPOs’ survival

This shift in the world’s status quo emphasised the mighty need for corporates to play a larger role in the survival of NPOs. Corporates help the helpers.

NPOs largely plug a gap in communities where government and even business with the best intentions cannot reach. While many work in survival mode, there are those whose objective is to unlock economic activity, using challenges and scarcity and turning that into opportunity in a very courageous way. This, in turn, helps grow the economy.

Corporates need to recognise that most NPOs simply cannot survive without them. The truth is, outside of corporate South Africa, non-profits experience little to no support and do not enjoy access to rescue plans in the current environment like other sectors do.

HAVE YOU READ: CSI in the time of Covid

Feeding the cycle of economic growth

Corporates are duty-bound to advance the transformation agenda of the country. If economic recovery is now the focal point, then they should find a way to incorporate this into their CSI strategy.

Leaning into enabling entrepreneurship has become the buzzword for corporates and individuals responding to the impact of the pandemic. It was clear very early on that young people would be very hard hit. There is a definite sense of urgency to address that. 

CSI for corporate sustainability

In a country stricken with inequality and record levels of unemployment, CSI is not only about the immense importance of ‘helping the helpers’ in meeting the needs of the country and its society, but it is about stimulating specific areas of the economy for the sustainability of business and society.

For more information, visit You can also follow Momentum Metropolitan on Twitter

Source: Media Update


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