The complexities in the social development setting in South African are clearly evident from unemployment and poverty statistics, low levels of literacy and education and lacking government response to social ills (CASE 2003). Added to the complex environment in which South African non-profit organisations (NPOs) operate, is the communication relationship between NPOs and their corporate donors (as stakeholders of one another). This relationship is important for the survival and financial sustainability of the NPOs and to the corporate companies’ adherence to stakeholder demands and guiding principles such as set out in the King III Report (IoDSA 2009). In this article, findings resulting from partially structured interviews with NPO managers, corporate social investment (CSI) officers of South African corporate companies and independent CSI consultants are discussed. This study maps the complex shared and divergent perceptions of communication relationships between social development NPOs and their donors, and finds that not only is the communication relations strained, but a corporate communication perspective alone is not suitable to describe (or manage) this specific relationship.