Corporate Social Investment/Responsibility and its direct Correlation with Brand Reputation

Gone are the days when companies gave money towards worthy causes and walk away, or where organisations are getting involved with social investment initiatives, such as education, purely to just tick the right boxes, because it is expected and required for BBBEE point scoring to obtain credits.

Corporate Social Responsibility is no longer about ticking the right boxes, but outside the box thinking. It’s about sustainable, meaningful and tangible interventions to bring about positive change to communities, people, the planet and causes in need.

A change in approach will deliver direct and indirect investment returns; contribute towards ensuring positive and enhanced brand reputation and equity outcomes...

There are a number of companies who have realised the importance of strategic corporate social investments towards a sustainable planet, people and causes in need. The benefits also cover a wide range of stakeholders with direct and indirect returns on their investments. The motivation to get involved must go beyond obtaining a Section 18A certificate. It should be a moral decision, which it rooted and motivated to addressing, social inequalities, attention to underdeveloped areas in some countries and to provide hope and opportunities in the absence of any investment.

The reference to investment is the essence of the function beyond hand-outs and give-aways. This includes the historical Chairman’s fund, which was used to silence critics and to apply for point scoring and popularity quests.

The trend is also towards more sustainable investments in order to contribute towards mitigating the impact of global warming on the environment. It is both a responsibility and an investment to ensure the betterment of people and the planet.

Gone are the days where companies invest in worthy projects in order to be compliant with regulation and to score points with government and other interest groups. We have seen how some companies actually go beyond the regulation requirements and implement programmes based on their moral and humanitarian beliefs and convictions.

Consumers are also inclined to support organisations who are actively involved in causes geared towards bringing about positive change to communities in need and responsible and sustainable business practices.

Consumers today are highly educated and able to clearly identify CSR investments, which are purely directed regulatory requirements. Their actions are also clear indications by not supporting such bogus activities. One of the characteristics as identified with millennials is their affinity to brands who are involved with responsible and sustainable business practices.

Below is a list of countries that are ranked as the best as far as their philanthropy investments and activities are concerned. It is a recent Infographic by Statista, and it clearly shows how the US is the leading philanthropic nation. It would be interesting to see how this position will change over the next few years with the current administration.

The Reputation Institute is a global research body who conducts various studies on how companies and countries are performing with regards to their various interventions aimed to enhance and grow their standing within the industry. Their latest finding are summarised below:

The findings clearly indicate consumer and retail brands are top ranked due to their enabling status and part of the everyday life of the consumer in South Africa. The spin-offs for these brands are both direct and indirect as well. It is visible on their bottom lines and the reputation and equities of their brands are enhanced.

Coca Cola and The Coca Cola Company is one of the brands who always feature in the top companies, due to their sustained Corporate Social responsibility interventions. One would have expected that they would also feature on the global ranking top 5.

Lego is also one of the brands who always feature in these studies due to their educational related investments and offerings.

Rolex might come as a surprise for some, due to its premium brand status.

To conclude, most corporations do have the capacity to manage their own CSI/CSR programmes and are constantly seeking to partner with credible non-profit organisations to bring their projects to life.

The Sports Trust since its inception has activated and implemented ground breaking projects, which have brought about positive change to schools and communities in need in South Africa. This has been achieved through implementing sport development and sustainable sports projects, and they have never deviated from their mandate to address the past imbalances by means of sustainable investments on behalf of their corporate partners and Trustees.

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