Albert Einstein once said ‘everything that can be counted does not necessarily count and everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted’. It got me thinking about things that count, about being counted on and whose responsibility it is to make things count. Can we count on our government officials to be accountable for carrying out their duties to their constituencies? 

To deliver on the promises they made in exchange for our votes? I knoweth not! I leave you with the question. We will have local elections later this year and then find out - after all the votes have been counted.

Back to what, for some people, counts the most. Money. Funding. Investment. These are words that get thrown around when planning and budgeting takes place, especially at this time of the year. We cannot exclusively count on our government to fund our agencies and our projects. We have to look elsewhere for this. We can sometimes rely on the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) that companies have towards worthy causes, but can we count on these companies to turn this responsibility into investment? I’m not trying to bite the hand that feeds us, but feel compelled to air my views as I try to address this issue. I want to speak to, and thank, the companies that support and fund our projects as well as to question those who do not.

Look at the logos on the license disc stickers that we (QASA) trade for a pledge to wear seat belts in our Buckle Up campaign and you’ll understand what I mean. They’ve changed. Over the years there was support from the Arrive Alive campaign but now we see the likes of SAB, BHP Billiton and AVIS. It is great to have the backing of these businesses, and I commend them for it, because together we have made a difference in the annual count of festive season accidents. Companies such as these will soon start to see the return on their social investment. They should worry less about the rand value of their CSI and more about backing real champions for change whose work broadens opportunities for all people

In South Africa. It is really good to see that CSI is increasingly becoming an important part of doing business. Whether the increase is because of legislative requirements or to increase scorecard ratings is not of importance here. As long as there is a lasting impact of the CSI. It is vital to evaluate needs in order to develop and grow our Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) with the same passion as is done in profit making entities. Both rely on similar elements such as leadership, capacity constraints and sustainable growth and development.

Can we count on the rest of the business sector to be bold enough to invest in, empower and partner with responsible NGOs? Will the top companies randomly choose high profile benefi ciaries from a list, or will some thought go into the CSI process? Can we count on our NGOs to step up and be counted? Are they ready and accountable enough to accept the challenge? These are things that we all should ponder.

CSI should be a process of background research, engagement with other funders and consultation with the company leadership to ensure that it fi ts the companies’, and the recipients’, strategic plans. There is so much more that can be done toward creating opportunities for improving the lives of all people. CSI is one of the tools that can be used. How many of you want to be counted on as someone who made a difference? It is up to us all to make it count.