Chris Midgley, Strategist with Blast Brand Catalysts, ponders strategic CSI initiatives.

What can brands and businesses do in order to make their CSI projects more meaningful, and go beyond simply donating money to a “needy cause”?


The answer is two-fold. Firstly it goes back to how you select the “needy cause”. Who makes this decision? Do they select a cause that is close to their heart, one that hits home as it has affected a friend or family member? Do they perhaps select an organisation that is able to provide them with a Section 18A certificate, which will benefit the business in terms of a tax rebate and BEE scorecard points?


The decision needs to have the emotion removed from the situation, and replaced with a strategic mindset. Once this has taken place, then the business and brand can ask itself: “Does this needy cause have a strategic fit with our values as a business, and is there a link to our core business?”  If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then and only then should the cause be considered.


It makes no sense for a company to simply donate money to a cause. Rather donate products, services and skills that are core to your business. This is an opportunity to showcase the features, benefits and talent that is present (it is also a great way for staff to do work that they really enjoy).


If CSI is used strategically, it can lead to an increase in brand awareness, actual sales of the product and take up of the service. An example of where this has been done well is Pedigree Australia’s Adoption Drive.


Pedigree partnered with PetRescue, and together with the donation of dog food (their core business), they encouraged everyday Australians to adopt a dog, and gave PetRescue the platform to showcase just how different the dogs up for adoption were. The brilliance to this CSI initiative is that it led to an increase in sales of the actual Pedigree dog food, as the rescued dogs all came with the information on breed, age, likes and dislikes, as well as information on what Pedigree food the dog liked the best. Long-term as more and more dogs got adopted, there was slow and steady increase in sales, and a decrease in the number of donations that were needed to be given as more pets found homes.


A CSI initiative that will actually grow market share and drive long term sales? That is the kind of CSI initiative for your business or brand to get behind.