Charity is Not Always AdmirableYolandaAD
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) refers to a company’s obligation to contribute to the well-being of society. Companies all over the world have implemented CSR programs, and South Africa is no exception. However, there is concern that the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing electricity blackouts, and the Russian invasion have decimated South Africa’s economy to the point where companies can only donate to charity instead of investing in CSR.
The South African economy was already struggling before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the restrictions, lockdowns, and economic hardship made things exponentially worse. Consequently, many companies have had to cut back on their CSR programs to save money. For the poor and needy, this has made a bad situation even worse. Then, as the pandemic receded, South Africa was plunged into its worse bout of electricity blackouts, further adding to the social hardship as jobs are lost and businesses close. Companies have therefore been forced to focus on their core operations as they try to maintain profitability and sustainability.
However, during these dark times, companies and businesses should continue to invest in CSR. Instead, we find numerous examples of companies cutting CSR and rather donating money to international charities and relief causes. Although this is a respectable social act of generosity, it does have a negative impact on CSR and South Africa’s vulnerable population. Donating to charity isn’t always “doing good” if it’s done for publicity or to divert attention away from a company’s cuts in CSR.
CSR is not merely about donating money to charity, it requires a more comprehensive strategic approach that includes investing in education, job creation, and sustainable development initiatives. Most importantly, the motivation should be to get our country out of poverty by providing life-long investments. Companies that invest in CSR tend to see long-term benefits in terms of brand reputation, employee engagement, and customer loyalty, making CSR an essential aspect of doing business.
Many companies do not differentiate between long-term CSR and short-term charity, and as a result of a dwindling bottom line, view CSR as a cost rather than a future benefit. However, it is essential to recognize that CSR is not merely about donating money but about investing in sustainable development that creates positive socio-economic change in the country. For many companies, charity is sufficient; but donations are not admirable if they’re used as a cover for scaling down CSR, in which case it’s just an unimaginative tax benefit given without passion or purpose.
About the Author:
Yolanda Gossel is the Founder and Programme Director at Five Tulips, a South African based sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI) consultancy. Five Tulips forges partnerships between communities, public and private sectors and individuals for social upliftment and preservation of our planets resources and ecosystems.
To connect with me visit: