Corporates! CSI is not a Checkbox, it’s a Long-term Investment

When Management Accountant at Metropolitan, Reagan Meyer, got involved with futsal-based mentorship NPO training4changeS, he did so from a place of passion. Not only did he love football, but he grew up in a community where one too many young boys were without male mentors in their lives.

Today he is on the training4changeS board of directors, ushering over 45 boys into the real world with the life skills and lessons they need to thrive in a modern world.

Meyer went on to found the Reggie Meyer Education Fund which provides bursaries to help the Futsal Academy boys access top quality high school education.  It was his father, Reggie, who inspired him through his belief in the power of education to change a person’s life.

Meyer says, “I believe that passion and commitment are the two biggest drivers of change in this world. You can have all the money in the world, and hand over the biggest cheques, but if you are not passionate and committed to the cause you are supporting then the cause is lost.”

Of course, Meyer has dealt with many corporates over the years. As he has remained steadfast in his commitment to his NPOs, he has one main objection: Money is not enough – corporates should also look into volunteering their time and skills. “We are obviously grateful for any support we receive, but my experience tells me that, if corporates want to make a difference, they need to see beyond the bottom line.”

Meyer likens this to the science of business. “If you’re a business, you are always looking five to ten years ahead, making strategic decisions that will impact the future growth of your organisation. Yet, when it comes to CSI, why aren’t businesses doing the same thing?”

He continues, “So many institutions I have been in contact with are very short sighted. They fund one organisation this year, and then 2000 more apply to them for funding and they move onto the next one the following year. Is that really how we should measure impact?”

Instead, Meyer says corporates should look to build lasting relationships with charitable organisations that are aligned to your values and what you do as a business. He says this is the basis of creating a partnership that can create sustainable growth within communities and NGOs.

As an example, Meyer says Metropolitan and training4changeS have significant synergies. “As an NPO, we are looking after the holistic wellbeing of our beneficiaries. As a business, Metropolitan strives to do the same things for its customers. It’s a perfect fit and a shared purpose.”

Why fund and forget when you can create sustainable change? For Meyer, that is the fundamental question that needs to be answered by every corporate with a CSI budget.

Meyer provides some quick lessons for any corporate CSI manager looking to make a real difference in this world. These he adds, are lessons that have been applied within the company and are proving to be quite successful.

These include:

  1. Have a shared purpose with your NPO – passion is power.
  2. Treat CSI like a long-term business investment, not a short-term checkbox.
  3. Get your employees involved in a way that ignites their passion – they need to believe in what they are doing.
  4. Measure impact not numbers – a small initiative with a large, long-term impact is better than throwing a million Rand at 10,000 children and hoping it sticks.
  5. Scale up only if you can keep the impact.

“If you can follow these philosophies, then you can make a sustainable change in this world that will have an impact and will continue to change lives year on year. Isn’t that why we are doing this in the first place? It’s time we change our approach and do so with the power of passion,” Meyer concludes.