The Corporate Social Investment Explosion

Standard Bank CSRThe realisation of this simple fact – that by helping my neighbour, I’m helping myself – also lies at the root of the corporate social investment explosion which has swept through the business world these last 10 years.  In South Africa alone, R5.2 billion is spent annually on corporate social responsibility – on fundraising for South African charities centred around education, job creation and development, HIV and Aids, schools, healthcare, community building, sport, arts and culture.  SAB donates R1 million annually, Harmony Gold Mine R84 million, Standard Bank R81 million, Anglo American R70 million.  The Corporate Social Investment story stretches beyond South Africa. Corporations now have a seat on the board for the CSI director, and entire departments whose sole purpose is to channel the funds being pumped into community upliftment programmes, either in their local communities or globally, in particular in Africa.  Yes, they’re partially doing it for the marketing and publicity benefits that corporate social responsibility brings, but the corporates are also donating these vast sums because the simple truth has partially dawned on them, that if you lift up your fellow man, you and your community are also thereby raised to higher ground.

There are further rewards on an even more direct level.  Human life reflects the Newtonian principle that every action results in an equal and opposite reaction.  When you give, you will receive.  Every person, in every age, who has applied this has found it to be true.  Perhaps not of the same commodity as that which was given, perhaps not from the same people who benefited from the gift, but the universe will reward the giver.  The one who parted with money may, at a later time of crisis, be provided with wisdom and guidance and moral support – all of these as important as any hundred dollar bill – from an unexpected source.  The one who spent time teaching a group of street children will, out of the blue, be presented with unexpected new business contacts and income earning opportunities.  These are all manifestations of the axiom that giving will be rewarded.

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