Corporate Websites Advertising Corporate Social Investment: How Serious Are You?

Websites are our public face. The content of our websites should express our minds and hearts. In our new normal, we are interacting more and more on digital platforms, having learned new skills to navigate these digital worlds. For most of us, the first step in finding more information about a company and its corporate social responsibility offering is to look at their websites. Websites are the first contact individuals and organisations have with corporates – and now with Covid-19 – more so than ever.

How seriously do corporates take this fact?

To answer this question and assess how some corporates advertise their corporate social responsibility endeavours, we have focused on the banking industry. We selected six of the major South African banks’ websites – Standard Bank, FNB, Nedbank, Absa, Capitec and African Bank. We analysed the way they present their corporate social investments to the public and community service organisations (CSOs). Their websites were judged on the following five criteria:

Table 1: Website criteria for evaluation

Quality of site:Look, layout, style and ease of navigation
Ease of access:How easy is it to find the CSI information?
Current & accurate information:Is the information current and up to date?
Content:Is the content relevant, helpful, and informative and do the links work?
Back-up content:Is all necessary information provided, including application forms, details of selection criteria, application processes etc?


1 = poor; 2 = below average; 3 = average; 4 = good; 5 = excellent.

Our banking website analysis results

Standard Bank scored the worst. Their website is content rich which makes it difficult to navigate, and with slower internet speeds, each screen takes a long time to load. There was no CSI or related menu tab, and an on-site search produced no results for ‘corporate social responsibility/investment’.

After 15 minutes of searching, we found some information under the ‘Corporate and Investment’ tab. However, clicking on the different sectors chosen for investment yielded no results for some of the funded events, such as the Jazz Festival and National Arts Festival. We eventually googled ‘Standard Bank CSI’ which loaded a PDF giving very general information. In small text at the bottom of the PDF was a hyperlink which led to Standard Bank’s CSI programme. Unfortunately, this was relevant for 2019. In all, we searched for 1 hour 30 minutes, and the results were disappointing.

FNB’s website is clean and easy to navigate but could be more visually appealing. The website did not have a CSI menu tab but a CSI search on the site produced the information we were looking for. Using the search function to find information is not ideal because it requires more time and effort, which most people do not have. The information provided on FNB’s various CSI projects was mixed, in that some projects had one-liner or paragraph descriptions, while others, such as the DTI initiatives, FNB sponsorships and philanthropy, gave more details. Importantly, the hyperlinks worked. Generally, the information provided was basic with no detailed descriptions on current projects, but they did have selection criteria and details of who to contact for more information. Overall, they scored second highest.

Quality of site:345533
Ease of access:144553
Info current and accurate:244332
Content relevant and helpful:244332
Back up content there (forms, contacts etc):144311
Total average score:1.844.23.832.2

Nedbank had one of the best websites for visual appeal and easy navigation, and we liked the simplicity. There was no menu tab for CSI and while we were searching for CSI information, we noticed that the news hyperlink in the ‘Corporate and Investment’ section does not work. We used the search function to find the information we needed, and the hyperlinks work. Nedbank’s CSI information is well presented and the best of the banks. However, there was no information for their sports affinity programme beyond a description, and nothing for the staff volunteer programme. They scored the highest of the banks.

ABSA had the best website when it comes to visual appeal and easy navigation. Their use of photos to draw the viewer in and different shades of their brand colours is very effective. We also thought their website the best for people with slow internet speeds. We found the CSI information easily in their footer menu. The information provided was fair but needs to be updated. The Readytowork hyperlink is not working, their scholarship programme is linked to a 2017 article, there is no information for Elev8 nor document to download as advertised; their ImpactSA section shows the most recent article from May 2020 and the Cybersecurity Academy has no information for year three of the curriculum when it promises the information in 2021. It is now May 2021. ABSA’s CSI website offering came in third.

Capitec – finally we have a CSI menu tab! The website is visually appealing and easy to navigate but could do with more visual hooks – photos to draw the viewer in. The Capitec CSI offering is presented in three tabs that gave general information. The hyperlinks worked and contact information is given. Capitec came second last because they do not give specific, helpful information on their CSI commitments nor the kind of information that an applicant for funding might need, such as selection criteria, application forms, etc.

African Bank’s website is simple, visually appealing and easy to navigate. There are no CSI menu tabs but a ‘Banking with humanity’ tab, and a press release on African Bank’s donations at the bottom of this page. An on-site CSI search produced a single page with general information about their CSI work and a contact number for more information. The CSI video hyperlink which is supposed to provide detailed information on their CSI projects leads to a YouTube site that doesn’t work – the video is no longer available. Searching further, we found a ‘Rise against hunger’ project with a general description. African Bank scored the lowest.

Some inspiration

If you need ideas about how easy it is to get it right, have a look at Momentum’s website. It is simple, easy to navigate, with appealing photographs and supports slow internet speeds. It has a dedicated CSI tab which is easy to find. The CSI page gives all the information we want with relevant photographs. The projects they support, the amount of money that is spent, and the beneficiaries are all clearly presented. They justify their successes with the voices of and stories from their recipients. The links all work which give further focus to various NPOs and contact details for further information are clearly included. Well done Momentum – we see that you are serious.

How serious are you?

The banks’ websites tell us, in effect, that they’re not very serious about CSI. This might not be how they feel but is the message they project through their sites.

According to the 2020 Charities Aid Foundation report (click here), South Africans are generous; we give away a third of our income to family, friends, community needs and charities. We expect, therefore, that our corporates will lead the way, because it is their giving that really makes an impact on struggling NPOs and NGOs who are doing the work of transforming communities.

Now is the time to consider what your company website says about your giving. Sketchy details, outdated reports, poor quality photographs and lack of access to vital information all convey the message that CSI is not very important to you.  Now especially, during the aftermath of three waves of Covid-19 and the subsequent disruption to businesses, communities are desperate for economic, nutritional, educational and social support. CSI support does not start with websites, but these websites certainly play a vital role in making your generosity known and available.

Now is the time to demonstrate your impact.

Note: All websites were accessed in March 2021.

Corporate Social Responsibility News (CSRNEWS) is South Africa’s leading Corporate Social Responsibility news, media and publishing firm. We create content on social responsibility, helping government, corporates, consultants, NPOs and NGOs to reach their target markets through appropriate, targeted development news.

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