June 3, 2021

A guide to corporate social investment

Many organisations and entrepreneurs see value in making social development part of their vision. Based on current trends, they’re right. 42% of UK consumers say that a brand’s support for political, social, or environmental causes is a priority when making a purchasing decision. Around half of these consumers are also willing to pay more to support brands with a strong CSI (Corporate Social Investment) record.

It’s also worth mentioning that 68% of customers are willing to drop a brand if they perform poorly or mislead consumers on their own CSI. This strategy isn’t about lip service – it’s about committing to doing good and delivering meaningful results. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do. 

Here’s a helpful guide to the different types of corporate social investment, and how to go about creating a successful social investment strategy for your organisation.

What is corporate social investment?

Social investment is the flip side to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Where CSR focuses on accountability, CSI is about making a financial commitment to a worthwhile project, charity, or endeavour. This could centre around a number of causes, from community development to caring for the environment. The aim is to make a financial commitment to positive change, but one that will also deliver a positive ROI. This is what differentiates CSR from typical charitable donations.

Types of social investment

CSI is a broad term that covers a range of charitable activities and investments. More often than not, organisations choose to invest in something that either links with their industry or resonates with their customer base. Here are just a few examples:

Ethics and human rights

This is where organisations actively choose to do the right thing by their workers, customers and either their local or global community. This may include sourcing local expertise and materials over cheaper options that have to be brought in from other countries, and taking action against oppressive or exploitative practices. This is usually implemented at every level of the production and supply chain. 

There are many examples of this approach leading to greater growth and profitability, as well as aligning your organisational purpose with values shared by your stakeholders. A good example of this is People Tree, a fashion retailer. They promote sustainable Fair Trade fashion combined with fair wages, good working conditions, gender equality, and environmental best practices. 

Environmental causes

Climate change is a hot-button topic, and thus presents significant opportunities for social investment. By investing in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, changing to green energy solutions, recycling on an organisational scale and reducing waste, businesses can tap into a powerful global social and political issue as well as reducing operating costs. As many as 75% of businesses in the UK have reported impressive commercial benefits after investing in green technology.

An interesting example of environmental CSI is Green Tomato Cars, an eco-friendly taxi service that’s dedicated to solving the poor air quality in London. As part of their strategy, they use a Toyota Prius and Toyota Mirai fleet, as well as planting trees to further offset their fleet’s low emissions.


Philanthropy allows organisations to align with charities and nonprofits that share their values. This often involves volunteer programs, funding, grants, and initiatives to uplift communities and causes, with the aim of supporting social and infrastructure development. In 2020, brands rose to the challenges set by the pandemic, with the UK as a country becoming the third most generous country globally).

For example, luxury fashion brand Burberry fast-tracked the production of 100,000 surgical masks for front-line workers, along with non-surgical gowns for hospitals. They assisted with funding the University of Oxford’s research into a single-dose vaccine and donating to FareShare and The Felix Project to provide food support in the UK.

Ultimately in today’s competitive market, consumers are savvy as to what brands are truly embodying their proclaimed values. Social investment allows leaders to put their money where their mouth is, inspire others and make a difference in their communities.

At GoodBox, we’re passionate about connecting businesses and donors, using innovative contactless payment technology to bring fundraising into the 21st Century. Since starting in 2016, we’ve raised over £6m in donations for countless charities across the UK and internationally.

Want to harness the potential of digital fundraising for your organisation or non-profit? Contact the GoodBox team today.

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