CSI Agent

Agent Label_FINAL

No. Not on the TV programme.

CSI in South Africa doesn’t mean Crime Scene Investigation, although it would be pretty cool to be that kind of CSI  Agent too.

CSI means Corporate Social Investment.

Eeny, meeny, miny, moeSouth African companies have to donate a certain amount of time or money to social initiatives aimed at righting the wrongs of the past and giving more people a shot at being functioning members of our economy.

Quite a lot of companies just write a cheque once a year and choose a recipient based on the Eeny Meeny Miny Moe Principle.

increase-bottom-lineThe fact is you can use CSI to the benefit of your company. By choosing the right recipient of your largesse you can actually make a difference instead of just playing lip service to it.

You don’t even need to send money. You can donate the time of your employees, products and services to get your CSI BEE score up.

If you’re a lawyer or an accountant donate a few hours every month to pro bono work for people or businesses in your community.

If you run a grocery store or a restaurant, send any extra produce to local soup kitchens or child care facilities.

mandelaCSI does not have to be a grudge purchase and a share of your profits you see going off into the ether.

It can actually help your bottom line.

You can also play off your charity donation to get the same amount back in PR value.

If you invest in the community in which you actually operate you can increase word-of-mouth, loyalty, staff performance and morale and a great deal more.

CSI doesn’t even have to be a logistical nightmare.

There are many registered charity organisations you can choose from that will gladly take your money. The downside is you don’t have much control on how it is actually spent. so, you could be financing someone’s new BMW Z3.

My advice is to look at the immediate surrounds of your company and its community.

  • day careIs there a nearby day-care centre for staff to send their kids to?
  • Are there staff members who live in shacks and could benefit from a housing scheme?
  • Is there a school nearby that serves your staff that needs a library, desks or operates a feeding scheme?
  • Can you offer a bursary to a high school or university?
  • Are there staff members who want to get a Matric or another relevant qualification?

Get your employees involved in what they would like to support.

Empower them to make a difference too and forget traditional team building exercises and get them out in the community planting a market garden, painting a wall, building a house.

Then publicise the hell out of it!


Take photographs.

Send articles to the media, your local knock and drop and radio stations.

Put it on YouTube

Send out a newsletter to your clients, suppliers and stakeholders.

Interview the people you are trying to help and most importantly…



I’ve spent nearly twenty years working in advertising. Brands are cash strapped and traditional advertising is not what it used to be.

CSI 1So, instead of giving away a prize of a car, give away a university education.

Combining CSI with brand building advertising can save budget and increase visibility and brand loyalty.

People want to be the change they want to see in the world.

Brands that facilitate this, empower their customers to do the same.

If by buying Brand X I know that somehow the world is a little bit better, I’ll choose it over Brand Y.

People want to support brands that support them instead of just taking their money and laughing all the way to the bank.

just one bagCurrently children seem to be doing more groundbreaking community empowerment work than most brands. And that is an indictment against corporate South Africa.

Check out my son’s schoolmate, Jordan van der Walt’s Just One Bag Initiative and then ask why a kid can do something this big and a company with far more resources at its disposal can’t?

Please feel free to contact me for some advice on what CSI initiative your company can support.

I’d be happy to consult and come up with an idea that makes the best use of your budget with the maximum output for both your brand and your community.


In 2004 the South African government passed the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act.

In order to do business with any government organisation (and get some tax breaks) a company must score a certain number of points on the BEE Scorecard.

BEE_Scorecard_LogoThe scorecard works like this:

Enterprise development: What are you doing to assist and accelerate the development and sustainability of black entrepreneurs or enterprises?

Socio-economic development: What are you doing to help disadvantaged communities and individuals become part of our economy?

Ownership: Is your company owned by any black people?

Management control:  How many black people you have in management, on the board etc.

Employment equity: What are you doing to make sure there is racial equity in your company?

Skills development: What are you doing to make sure black staff are trained into higher positions?

Preferential procurement: Do you use BEE black-owned suppliers?

As a qualifying small enterprise with an annual turnover between 5 and 35 million you need to select four of the seven sections.

Each of the four equal 25% of your final score.

So, if you choose enterprise and social-economic development as two of them, you can earn a lot of your points through CSI initiatives, even if you are not a black-owned company.

You need a certain BEE score to apply for government business.

You may think that you aren’t going to so why bother?

Bother because, other companies you may be doing business with are applying for government contracts and will only choose suppliers with BEE credentials.






11 thoughts on “CSI Agent

  1. May I use this post to motivate people in my local community? I currently work, voluntarily, for an orphanage and need to do fundraising. This might move people to do something.

  2. Kids are amazing. The first ever monetary donation that we received was from an 11 year old child – R600.00… Vic’s boys purchased 2 hospital beds for the In Patient Unit in honour of their Mom. How amazing the goodness in our children…

  3. HI Victoria Bruce, Wonderful post. We are hoping to find some companies that will assist us with the salaries of our new Hospice’s nursing staff. Let me know if you have companies looking for NPO’s to support!

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