By Michelle Govender

Charity starts at home…and at work

There’s an old idiom that says charity starts at home, but as the payroll giving trend starts taking off in South Africa, charity may very well find its place at work, giving new meaning to the concept of ‘give as you earn’.


Already well-established in the UK and US, payroll giving is gaining traction in South Africa, offering employers a simple but effective way to involve their employees in social investment initiatives while building a shared culture of caring for vulnerable groups and communities.  Payroll giving is facilitated by employers, and enables employees to donate a chosen amount to a supported charity straight from their gross salary before it is taxed each month, with a minimum of hassle.


“Payroll Giving is growing in South Africa, and is founded on the basis that many small donations, given on a recurring basis, with minimal administration required by the employer, can amount to a substantial and meaningful impact for a needy charity. If only 10% of South Africa’s 9.2 million employed people contributed R50 a month of their salaries, it would amount to R46-million every month, or R552million every year invested in charitable programmes. Many companies are also challenging employees to support such programmes, with the promise of matching and doubling up on whatever employees donate in their personal capacities,” explains Michelle Govender, Director of Strategic Marketing at B-Cause.


B-Cause is a specialist agency in South Africa that focuses specifically on cause-related marketing, social responsibility and sustainability issues, matching corporate brands with appropriate social and public benefit organisations.


“One of the greatest appeals of payroll giving is that employees have the peace of mind that all the checks and balances are in place, and that approved charities supported by their employer have been through the process of confirming their legitimacy and that the funds will be used effectively.   There is also the cohesion that comes from working towards supporting a common vision where everyone’s smaller contributions can make a huge social difference as a collective effort. Finally, not all employees are able to invest their time or skills in worthy causes as often as they would like to, so payroll giving provides an opportunity to be part of a well-managed charitable effort, on a consistent basis without any demands on their time,” adds Michelle.


While payroll giving initially took off in larger employers, small and medium commercial entities are also seeing the opportunity to rally their people around a common cause, with a minimum of effort and costs to company to administer the effort. At the same time, it provides the business with a distinct competitive advantage to differentiate in an increasingly socially-conscious consumer market. In fact, progressive business strategists have long been advocating for corporate social investment to be managed as aspects of core business strategy.


Entrench a culture of giving

There is an important internal marketing job to be done in creating and maintaining the payroll giving momentum. B-Cause works with employers to introduce and demonstrate to staff how easy it is to make a difference with payroll giving.  Invest the marketing resources to promote the payroll giving opportunities, and then get leadership involved to challenge employees and set the bar.  It’s also vital that staff get to see the results of their contributions, so provide regular feedback on how their hard earned money has benefitted a needy cause.

Payroll giving drives employee engagement 

An often overlooked but valuable benefit of payroll giving is that of employee engagement.

“Payroll Giving is one of many important employee engagement tools which are vital in the age of millennials. According to a 2015 Cone Communications study, millennials are far more engaged with social causes than their older counterparts.  Millennials are more likely to work for a company based on its corporate social responsibility commitments, and will even be willing to take a drop in salary in order to work for a socially responsible company that they admire when deciding where to work.  Millennials expect brands to integrate sustainable and responsible practices into all that they do. Brands that are embracing CSI as a business-imperative strategy, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s also the profitable thing to do, tend to retain skilled staff for longer, and enjoy a greater share of the consumer wallet,” explains Michelle.

For the employer brand, besides the ease with which it can be integrated into the payroll system, payroll giving also brings structure to its CSI strategies. With payroll giving, you have the consistency of donor income that can be earmarked for specific charitable projects, allowing for long-term and structured forward planning which is worth gold for both donor and recipient organisations,” explains Michelle.

In embarking on a payroll giving strategy, B-Cause helps companies to identify NPOs that align with the strategic imperatives and nature of the business, and ensure that there is a good fit for the cause and beneficiaries that would be best served by the partnership. “We focus on creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships between corporates, employees and NGOs – relationships that will last and become deeply ingrained in the mind of the organisation, its people and the public,” concludes Michelle.


By Michelle Govender

Corporate Social Investment – Can Companies Do Well by Doing Good?

South African businesses invested R8.1billion in corporate social investment (CSI) during the 2014/15 financial year, an important financial quantum on the triple bottom line that continues to grow.  Typically, SA’s largest JSE firms approach CSI as well-engineered, strategic and sustainable initiatives that tie back strongly to the business objectives, BBBEE and community stakeholder relationships.

“But for a huge mid-section of firms, CSI is often knee-jerk, unsustainable, non-aligned to the strategic imperatives of the business and the important touch points of the local communities, customers and employees.  As a result, the real grass roots impact of such CSI projects are lost and unrealised, despite significant investments of money, time and resources,” says Michelle Govender, Director: Strategic Marketing at B-Cause, SA’s only dedicated consultancy focused on cause-related marketing.

Whilst the aim of commercial marketing is financial and the aim of social marketing is ‘social good’, the two are not mutually exclusive. The reality is that if correctly deployed and entrenched throughout the business, CSI provides an opportunity for improved profitability, growth, employee engagement, consumer loyalty and competitive advantage.

“The pressure is on all businesses – and especially given South Africa’s massive social challenges and economic disparities – for well-managed CSI strategies that deliver social currency, uplift and empower beneficiaries on a sustainable basis, and support business objectives by enhancing relationships with key stakeholders and customers.  There is an opportunity to do good that has real impact and effect, and at the same time, provides the business with a distinct competitive advantage in a parity market,” explains Michelle.


Is CSI investment realising tangible, grass roots results?
According to the CSI Handbook 18th Edition (Published by Trialogue) total CSI in South Africa in 2014/15 was R8.1 billion.  This only measures the CSI spend of Enterprise organisations, but when you factor in tier two and three companies, it’s likely that this figure is well over R10billion. And yet it’s very hard to track the impact that this investment is having and the kudos the companies are receiving for the hard-earned money they are spending. So where is the cause and effect?  This massive disconnect means that those still in need and brands are missing out on the opportunity to “do well by doing good”.

“In many companies, we see initiatives that are dispersed throughout the company with no over-arching, sustainable plan for ongoing engagement.  Each year, we see hastily coordinated staff field trips on Mandela Day or a ‘global day of service’ to paint, garden or spend time with CSI beneficiaries, only to pack up again and head back to the office until the next year.  What real impact, if any, is this having for the firm, the beneficiaries, communities and employees? Surely, collectively if we all do our part, we should achieve more than simply painting a wall or building a fence once-off?” says Michelle.

In embarking on a sustainable CSI strategy, B-Cause helps companies to identify NPOs that align with the strategic imperatives and nature of the business, and ensure that there is a good fit for the cause and beneficiaries that would be best served by the partnership. “We focus on creating and sustaining mutually beneficial relationships between corporates and NGOs, relationships that will last and become deeply ingrained in the mind of the organisation, the employees as well as the public,” she adds.


Strategic Philanthropy is more important than ever for employees and customers
The CSI strategy needs to be an entrenched part of the business, headed by a senior management person who can ensure that it receives corporate oversight, a role that is typically headed by the head of Human Resources or Operations.  Strong leadership and support for CSI initiatives at c-suite level is crucial, not only from a commitment perspective, but from a budget allocation too.  Top-level support is fundamental to reinforce the intrinsic value of CSI programs for the business, and to ensure that both short term and long term goals are achieved in achieving a partnership where true transformation can occur for South Africa’s most disadvantaged citizens.

Within the South African context, B-BBEE ties in strongly with corporate social investment.  CSI initiatives that assist Black beneficiaries can favourably affect your BEE Scorecard. CSI spend is regulated at a target of 1% of net profit after tax as part of the revised Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Codes (BBBEE).  It is important to note that CSI and SED (Socio-economic development) are 2 different elements of the scorecard. Socio-economic development is more than just assisting the disadvantaged with a meal or a warm bed. It refers to access to the economy. CSR departments need to bear this in mind when developing programmes with their scorecard in mind.

Companies can continue to earn points through charitable giving as before, but there is additional emphasis on developing skills, preferential procurement, enterprise development and socio-economic development.  In fact, research by Trialogue shows that the growth in CSI development is linked to three main reasons – moral imperative, reputation and the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI’s) Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes.

“It’s also an important factor in employee engagement and positioning the company as an employer of choice.  According to a 2015 Cone communications study, millennials are more engaged with social causes than their older counterparts and they will easily hop online to condemn a brand that they felt was behaving socially irresponsibly.   Millennials are also more likely to work for a company based on its corporate social responsibility commitments, and will even be willing to take a drop in salary in order to work for a socially responsible company that they admire when deciding where to work.  Millennials are also the generation that easily migrate to social media in order for their voices to be heard,” says Michelle.

“Consumers are equally demanding more accountability from brands for their social impact.  Consumers increasingly expect brands to integrate sustainable and responsible practices into all that they do. For example, many companies are starting to make procurement decisions around socially responsible behaviour and corporate values.  Strategic social responsibility and cause-related marketing are very effective marketing tools that help to grow your social impact as well as your business. Brands are embracing CSI as a business-imperative strategy, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s also the profitable thing to do. When done right, with integrity and commitment to actually making a difference, brands tend to receive a greater share of the consumers wallet,” she adds.

With the growing trend in cause-related marketing, companies will do well to bridge the gap between growing their reputations by aligning and committing to the charities that would make a good fit. By positioning the right products and services with the right cause and designing, developing and deploying strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) and cause related marketing (CRM) efforts, B-Cause helps achieve the brand’s reputation growth and broaden the positive social impact.

“CSI is here to stay and when one considers the social and economic landscape South Africa currently finds itself in, the need for cohesive, integrated CSI strategies from SA’s corporate sector has never been more crucial.  By strategically managing what is essentially a philanthropic venture, every business can maximize its purpose and benefits to society, create real, grass roots societal value where it is needed most, and fulfil on all its stakeholder mandates,” concludes Michelle.

By Avy Maselwa

Shining the spotlight on rural women, food and poverty eradication

With just the words, “finish your food, children are starving in Africa”, the dispute between my parents and I where food was concerned was eternally over. I remained confused for years to come about “Africa” being made to seem far away from my home in Mdantsane in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. And more importantly how finishing my food would help other hungry children.

The one truth continues to be that the age old adage that has coaxed children world over into finishing their food is a reality. Indeed, there are people in the world who do not have access to food.

Over the next few days we will observe some key dates: International Day of Rural Women (15 October), World Food Day (16 of October) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 October).

However, the issue is no longer just about food scarcity, but also about how the poorest communities (which are disproportionately African) have to contend with the impact of climate and environmental change on methods of food production.

Rural women take the lead in food production

International Day of Rural Women is aimed at recognising and enhancing the importance of rural women in agricultural and economic development. The general consensus is that rural women often take the leading role in food production and the image of a rural woman is never divorced from labour and in particular labour that yields communal food.

Food deprivation and poverty

In South Africa, the increasing limitation on the ability of poorer communities, especially rural communities to rely on subsistence farming, has led to a larger and more absolute reliance of people on social welfare for access to basic foods and often times, this is hardly enough to sufficiently feed whole families.

However food deprivation is just one consequence of poverty. People are stripped of their dignity when they are unable to access means of survival like adequate water and sanitation, education, employment and generally global and local citizenship rights which ultimately take material shape in economic terms.

The International Day for Eradication of Poverty is more than just a call for empathy from those who are more privileged.

So what happens next?

It is primarily a space for engagement in an effort to break the cycle of poverty and ultimately influence global policy on the needs of the poor. Importantly, the voices of the poor need to be given the majority weight in this discussion, because no one better understands the needs of the poor better than the poor themselves.


By Michelle Govender

Fundraising challenges for NGOs in the age of ‘Digital Darwinism’

Technological changes impact virtually every aspect of our personal and professional lives. It has fundamentally changed the face of how we transact and the pace at which we expect things to happen, and more efficiently than ever before. But finding and retaining the skills-sets to embrace and exploit the technology remain a key challenge for all business, and even more so cash-strapped non-profit organisations (NPOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

In an age that has been dubbed ‘Digital Darwinism’, the pace of technological change is advancing so rapidly that individuals and organisations are struggling to adapt to the changes, let alone learn enough to exploit them. More than ever before NGOs are under huge pressure to adopt new technologies as a vital mechanism to survive and fund their work.

Allocating share of wallet

Cloud, crowdfunding, mobile, social communication, augmented reality, instant and mobile payment mechanisms – these are just some of the technologies that have dramatically changed consumer behaviour and how they allocate their share of wallet.

If fundraising strategies are to generate the hard-earned cash needed to fund NGO work, then NGOs need to figure out how technology is changing the face of fundraising, and how to engage donors beyond a 10-second attention span. Technology is changing consumer behaviour dramatically, and that means NGOs have to change with them in the manner that they fundraise, market, and share information.

Key tech trends that non-profits need to engage with:

Mobile: The future is all about mobile, and that means transacting needs to follow suit. More and more people are moving away from their PCs to being more mobile and ‘on the go’. That means you have to ensure your content and message is optimised for mobile functionality, especially when you consider that almost 50% of all emails are read on mobile devices. Being mobile-savvy has never been more important.

Data and analytics: Data is by far the most valuable asset of any organisation. This means that the quality of data going into an NGO has to improve, and we have to move away from a ‘capturing’ mindset to an ‘analysing’ one. More than ever NGOs can research which communications channels their donor base prefers, which messages and approaches are more effective, how to increase recurring giving and understand the donor’s propensity to donate. The ability to extract ‘intelligence’ from data and translate this into actions will determine which NGOs are successful and sustainable in an increasingly discerning consumer market.

Cloud: Cloud provides a secure, highly available, managed, cheaper environment for organisations to operate without the costs associated with cumbersome IT infrastructures. This becomes even more important when you consider the move to mobile and the need to access your critical documents on the go, anywhere, anytime, as well as sharing data and information from any place. Cloud could prove to be a gamechanger for NGOs to access services that may have proven too costly a few short years ago. To this end, Microsoft has long promoted the development of cloud services and the use of innovative technologies by NGOs. Microsoft is donating over $1bn in cloud services to 70,000 NGOs around the world in the next three years as part of its ‘Public Cloud for Public Good’ initiative, supporting NGOs to enhance operational efficiency, network security and overall service quality, so that they can provide even better community services to countless people.

Social media: From live tweeting of events to sharing of donor pages, social networks have become the communication channels of choice for emerging generations who will become your future donors. They have become pervasive across business and personal use with channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter providing access to huge networks of potential donors, volunteers, supporters, media and so on. Make sure your website and marketing communications integrate seamlessly with social channels and put an intelligent, consistent and impactful social content plan at the top of your priority list.

Crowdfunding: Of all the innovations in fundraising over the past decade, one of the most impressive has to be crowdfunding. Crowdfunding websites allow your non-profit to set up an online fundraising campaign based around a fundraising page, and accept money directly from that page using the website’s own credit card processor. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals — primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms — and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure. For NGOs, the ability to collaborate and network beyond their immediate borders is a massive benefit.

Video: Tell compelling visual stories that capture the hearts and imagination of your audience with video. The use of video in content marketing is on the rise, evident in the fact that YouTube is now the second largest search engine on the web. It also demands more consumer attention than any other medium. Statistics also show that audiences are also 10 times more likely to engage, share and comment on video posts than any other content. Video is also the most powerful way of evoking emotions online.

These are just a handful of technologies that are impacting the NGO space. While we’re not suggesting that the tried and trusted traditional channels are no longer relevant, they need to be augmented with greater digital integration. NGOs need to engage a far more diverse audience of donors than ever before. Some are comfortable in more traditional media, while a much bigger and perpetually growing number are happier with the speed and agility that digital platforms provide. The point is that NGOS need to engage across multidisciplinary channels, and ensure an integrated approach to engaging their current and future donor audience.

Attracting and retaining in-demand, experienced digital experts in the cash-sensitive NGO environment is a key challenge, which is why NGOs need to collaborate with partners that can deliver the new skills that they demand. Internally, a new culture of fundraising innovation is also needed so that by thinking ahead, NGOs can take a more proactive response to digital technologies that allows them to actively shape their futures, rather than be shaped by it.



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