Our vision for building stronger communities is simple: to create opportunities for people to own their future and fulfill their personal promise. Our mantra, “Be What’s Possible,” is a call to action to give forward, not just give back.
We focus our investments on creating opportunities for underserved youth in the developed world and women in the developing world because, based on our company’s assets, we see the greatest potential for impact in these areas.
We also look for opportunities to deepen our impact through other activities and initiatives. We consider the organizations we support to be partners, not “grantees,” and provide them with programming and company assets beyond cash grants to help them maximize their impact in the community. And we invest in service leadership to unlock the power of volunteerism across the world.
Our strategy: Applying business innovation to social challenges
Businesses use innovation every day to solve problems and create opportunities. At Gap Inc., we apply this thinking to community investment, using innovation to solve social problems and create new possibilities. Our strategy is built on two ideas: leveraging company assets and creating a “virtuous cycle.”
Leveraging company assets
Like most businesses, Gap Inc. has more to offer than cash to have a positive impact on the community – we also call on our stores, marketing expertise, globally recognized brands, vendor relationships and, most importantly, our talented employees. For example, through volunteering their time and sharing their experience with young people, our employees across the globe help create greater and broader change in their communities. Leveraging corporate assets enables us to make a deeper impact than we could if we solely wrote a check to support a cause.
Creating a “virtuous cycle”
In addition to leveraging our assets, we aim to create a "virtuous cycle" in everything we do. When we invest in community, we want to benefit all involved — our employees, customers, shareholders, vendors and communities. For instance, when we partner with vendors and organizations in the developing world to advance female factory workers, we find that every party benefits as the women become more skilled at their jobs and more powerful in their communities. When everybody moves forward, initiatives gain support and continue to flourish over the long term. By designing programs that benefit all, we have shifted our model from one based on charity to an approach focused on sustainable investment.
We have been practicing this new way of investing in our communities for more than five years, and as we begin to see positive results from our strategy, we’re encouraged to continue along this path. Such innovation requires thoughtful risk-taking, an appetite for learning from our mistakes and a host of supportive partners to make it happen.