South African CSI growth in 2023 continues to support non-profits

South African companies channelled the bulk of their estimated R11.8 billion corporate social investment (CSI) spend in 2023 into supporting non-profit organisations (NPOs).

According to corporate responsibility consultancy Trialogue’s latest research findings, 84% of companies directed an average of 63% of their spend to NPOs in 2023. While the proportion of companies directing CSI funding to NPOs fell below 90%, the average contribution increased.

“The contribution to non-profits takes place amidst the 8% nominal and 1% real growth in CSI from R10.9 billion in 2022,” says Trialogue managing director Nick Rockey. “Of interest is that 79% of companies reported proactive identification of their major CSI projects, indicating that more companies are operating from defined, conscious strategies, an approach that delivers much greater impact.”

The findings, published in the latest annual edition of the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook, reflect a continued recovery in CSI expenditure, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, slow economic growth and a challenging operating environment. More than half of surveyed companies (59%) reported an increase in CSI spend, compared to 36% in 2021.

Companies reported reluctance to engage in more progressive types of NPO funding, with more than 69% indicating they would not provide funding for reserves, unrestricted funding or loans.

Education, social and community development, and food security and agriculture continue to receive the bulk of CSI expenditure from local companies.

Company support for education dropped from 98% of companies in 2022 to 78% in 2023, though average spend increased from 44% to 48%. Almost three-quarters of companies (74%) support social and community development, spending an average of 13% of CSI in this area. Food security and agriculture was supported by 60% of companies in 2023 and received an average of 9% of CSI expenditure.

“As our latest research looks to what the future may hold across the continent and how business might contribute to more effective CSI, we see the growing need for deeper intervention, particularly in the wake of global economic crises and the impending threat of climate change. Companies are increasingly recognising the need to move beyond charitable CSI and towards CSI that is leveraged to drive systemic change. They are also recognising the limitations of CSI budget constraints and the reality that real impact will come from leveraging and integrating whole businesses,” says Rockey.

The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2023 can be downloaded for free at .

Survey methodology 

This 2023 research refers to data from the 2022/2023 financial year, which differs across organisations depending on the month of financial year-ends.

Trialogue’s estimate of total CSI expenditure is based on analysis of data from various sources, most notably the published NPAT data of 151 companies and published CSI data of 135 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. It also considers the primary survey data collected by Trialogue and data from the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

The primary survey data was collected between May and August 2023 by professional researchers who conducted interviews with CSI representatives from large South African companies. Companies also had the option to self-complete the questionnaire, which was then verified by the researchers. There were 68 participating companies.

The surveyed companies were large, with more than two-thirds (69%) having an annual income of over R1 billion in their latest financial year and 40% having an income of over R10 billion. Over half of the companies (59%) employed more than 5 000 people, with a quarter (25%) having more than 20 000 employees.

About the Trialogue Business in Society Handbook
The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook is South Africa’s premier publication on corporate social investment (CSI) and responsible business. The 26th edition focuses on the future as we explore trends in responsible business and corporate social investment (CSI), the role of technology in development and the future of the non-profit sector.

The Trialogue Business in Society Handbook 2023 can be downloaded for free at

About Trialogue

Trialogue is a niche corporate responsibility consultancy with more than two decades of industry research and experience. The company provides consulting and thought leadership services to clients in sustainability and corporate social investment (CSI).