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Put CSI projects on your online radar, Forgood

To help the Corporate Social Investment (CSI) movement grow momentum in the country, we really needed a 'matchmaker' - an online platform that connects people connect with NGOs. The result? Forgood, says CEO Andy Hadfield...
Andy Hadfield's no stranger to the online realm, what with his popular blog, talks throughout the continent, and flying the SA flag at SXSW in a talk on Banking 2.0. He's also behind the Get A Life community - launched when he was just 19 and proof of the entrepreneurial spirit flowing in his blood. Come 2015 and he's now launched an internet platform that helps South Africans who want to make a difference get connected to the causes that can use their help. What a simple, obvious business idea - connecting a cutting business need with a way to divert the profit to those who need it most. That's the best kind of strategy.

Put CSI projects on your online radar, Forgood
© Weerapat Kiatdumrong – 123RF.com


That's what piqued my interest when we first got the news that Hadfield is CEO of Forgood. Then, I read a wonderful piece on Forgood in the Daily Maverick. Consider me sold on the concept. So, I contacted Hadfield to find out more...

Bizcommunity 1. Let's talk about how it got started: What enticed you to become CEO of www.forgood.co.za?



Hadfield: I've also wanted to get involved in the social space, but have also had reservations about how to best get involved. Then I saw a TED video that prompted some of these thoughts and inspired a blog post. My first chance to dip a toe into the sector was when I was invited to sit on the board of the Witkoppen Health & Medical Clinic. It's an amazing NPO in the primary healthcare space, with around 100,000 patient visits a year - yet it's largely unknown by most people in my 'circles'. It was on that board that I met Garth Japhet, Chairman of Forgood and CEO of Heartlines. He read the "what pisses me off" post, thought it was cute, we had coffee, and the rest was history.

Bizcommunity 2. Similarly, what led Garth to incubate Forgood in various forms inside Heartlines?



Hadfield: I'd say Garth has always seen the need for a platform play, having built up so much experience in the NPO sector over the last 20+ years. The sector is doing amazing work, it just seems to be missing something to glue it all together, there's a gap for technology to create efficiency - in both NPOs and the people that want to be involved with them.

Every good business brain and visionary sometimes needs to just match 'vision A' with 'technology B'. And until that happens, nothing happens. Hopefully we've got it right now!

Bizcommunity 3. Hopefully indeed. What was the overall impetus then, behind launching this 'start up'?



Andy Hadfield (right) with product manager David Brauer (left)
Andy Hadfield (right) with product manager David Brauer (left)
Hadfield: Well, as highlighted in my answers to the previous questions, we want to build the glue underneath the NPO industry in South Africa and eventually abroad, in high Gini coefficient countries. We want to build a platform that generates immense value for the sector. Firstly, by using spare capacity in everyday South Africans' lives. Secondly, by creating real business value down the road.

Bizcommunity 4. Sounds good. In simple terms then, how does Forgood connect people with NGOs, and what's the benefit of this?



Hadfield: In simple terms, I like that. It's a philosophy at Forgood HQ. If we can't do it simply, it doesn't get done. The answer is threefold:
  • We allow people to respond to the needs or campaigns of an approved group of causes,
  • We allow people to create personalised offers of absolutely any value they think they can give, and match that out to an approved group of causes.
  • We allow business to use this platform to do the same thing for their staff, just with some sexy reporting on top.
  • The benefits are the "spare capacity" argument. Like AIRBNB unlocked capacity by allowing anyone to rent a house/room; like Uber unlocked capacity by allowing anyone to become a "taxi driver" - technology has time and time again proven its ability to unlock spare capacity. We want to put that capacity to good use by making it easier to give, easier to get involved in the non-profit sector.

    Bizcommunity 5. Delving deeper, tell us how Forgood can be customised or personalised to run employee volunteer programmes, giving the company unique features for its own community while exposing its volunteering and CSI activities to the world.



    Hadfield: The business product is step two of the plan and already in development. We actually have our pilot client already and have been working really hard to get their internal employee volunteering and donation programme ready.

    Put CSI projects on your online radar, Forgood

    The simple idea is to take exactly the same platform you see today and...
    • Brand it with the company's corporate identity
    • Allow the company to select the causes they want to work with
    • Roll it out to staff, instead of to the public
    • Ring fence all staff data and activity for data protection
    • Report on the impact that occurs when staff volunteer/donate

    Bizcommunity 6. How does Forgood target businesses to improve the efficacy of their existing corporate social investment (CSI) programmes?



    Hadfield: The good old fashioned way. We buy them coffee!

    Bizcommunity 7. Works for me. Tell us about the short-term and long-terms goals for Forgood.



    Hadfield: Short term: Connect 100,00 people to causes.

    Long term: Connect 40 business into the platform, and therefore ALL their staff members - and use them to create social impact.

    Long long term: Build sustainable value for the NPO sector by constantly improving the platform and infrastructure we provide.

    Bizcommunity 8. Impressive. What's initial response/uptake been like?



    Hadfield: It's been great. At less than a week in we'd already seen brand new forms of engagement through the creation of offers and great traction on the more traditional journey, with people responding to needs.

    Have a look at some of the first few offers: "I would like to train/mentor deserving youth in areas relating to time management, MS office software (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook), website design, blogging, shipping and freight. I am a professional in the shipping and freight industry, part time blogger and web-site designer."

    Or this one: "I'm a retired book dealer. I can help evaluate book values for charities who often vastly underprice donated items. Retired antiquarian book dealer."

    Bizcommunity 9. Sounds great. Lastly, how do you intend to extend the campaign into Africa?



    Hadfield: All in good time! Let's first understand this market really well and as quickly as possible and then figure out how best to export the idea. What we're doing is in some ways just an amalgamated version of other services, but in others ways it really is a new behaviour and new form of connection that we're encouraging. We'll learn with the market.

    When we go, especially in Africa, local relevancy is critical. Both for culture, needs and the platforms used by those populations.

    Exciting times...

    To try it out, visit the ForGood website or connect with them socially on Facebook and Twitter.

    About Leigh Andrews

    Leigh Andrews AKA the #MilkshakeQueen, is former Editor-in-Chief: Marketing & Media at Bizcommunity.com, with a passion for issues of diversity, inclusion and equality, and of course, gourmet food and drinks! She can be reached on Twitter at @Leigh_Andrews.

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