Colloboration enables corporates and NPOs to learn each other’s CSI language

1 Nov 2017



Remember this booktitle: “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”? Well, the phrase actually relates beyond gender into the realms of Corporate Social Investment (CSI), relating to not-for-profit organisations (NPOs) and corporates. Why? The dynamic make-up of each group influences their spoken business language. Both optimistically have good intentions entering the meeting room, seldom leaving with anticipated results. But how many ways can a NPO justifiably get across “Will you please support my cause?” Here are a few ways …


Do I sound competent? Does this business understand that I am aware of their scarce resources and limited time? How do I get them to believe that our organisation is the perfect way to invest their CSI money? Am I different to the last NPO, appearing passionate enough?


If the above interaction is successful, and the investment is secured, you are still not off the hook. For more funding, you will have to repeat the process the following year. 


Let us change from the NPP perspectives to a corporate view. This turns the same interaction into a completely different encounter. Corporates eagerly await the NPO presentation to bring a punch, and hopefully a fast one, because there is a client meeting in 15 minutes. Also, a hint of trepidation lingers in the back of their mind hoping that a highly zealous NPO presenter listens to the rationale of why their cause is not fit for the company-agreed mandate, and hopefully does not burst into tears …  


We have not even dipped our feet into the discussion on what people believe true definition of CSI to be. I believe CSI is making a tangible, long-lasting difference in the lives of all of those around us. It is more than promoting a brand or spending compliance profits. It’s more than winning awards for being the greatest NPO and humanitarian.


How do we bridge the divide, how do we make this impact? We need to work together. We need to learn each other’s language.


A while ago, I attended a fantastic seminar hosted by Nation Builder, which echoed the universal truth of collaboration. The presentation equivalents the vows of marriage being handed over between companies. Just like a marriage relationship and friendship, each group must be respectful, transparent and most importantly honest. Both parties need to engage in the building blocks of communication to have a rock solid foundation.


My wife and I will be married for four special years this coming December. I am proud to say that we have a solid and loving marriage because we communicate very well. We also put in the effort to make sure each party is heard, respected and loved. So, the collaboration between corporates and NPOs need to face a similar marriage of objectives.


Adding to this, technology and the Internet bring the far reaches of our world much closer. With my keyboard and web camera, I can literally see the face of my client on the opposite end of the world by the touch of a button.


The CSI world needs to become “smaller”. Corporates and NPOs need to come together to discuss each other’s goals and objectives with the single purpose of each world understanding the other.


Platforms such as Nation Builder’s new online peer-learning community gives just what the CSI community needs. It allows users from both the NPO and corporate world to share their different perspectives. It opens up constructive dialogue, making the CSI world smaller, more efficient and enables a collaborative effort to making a lasting impact in our great country.


Here's to the future of South Africa, and working towards a better marriage of the corporate and Non-Profit world.


Ryan Boyd is the Regional Manager for Corporate Social Investment (CSI) in the Western Cape as well as the Senior Manager for CSI in Financial Services Gauteng for Deloitte SA. He is an accredited CSI practitioner as well as a Senior Actuarial Consultant for Deloitte hosting both bachelors and honours degrees in Actuarial Science from Stellenbosch University. Ryan is also part of the Nation Builder Expert Collaborative.

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