25 September 2017 LESSONS Fashion

C&A Store Giving Programme

A group of adults and children dancing in a room with bright coloured lights

What did we evaluate?

The Store Giving Programme (SGP) was established in 2006 and is active in 21 countries across Europe where C&A operates retail stores. The SGP is implemented by C&A, and funded and administratively supported by C&A Foundation since 2011. The SGP operated without a formal strategy or set of guidelines since 2006.

This allowed a set of implicit objectives of the SGP to develop: (a) To support local projects that help to redress social imbalances in relation to families, women and children; and (b) to promote corporate citizenship, and positive local engagement between the company and its employees and communities surrounding its retail stores. EUR 10.4 million was provided to 1,822 local and national organizations in 2,245 grants between 2011 and 2014. The evaluation assessed the period from January 2011 to December 2014.

“The C&A grant has contributed to ensure the social inclusion of children and adolescents … through the use of social and educational projects.”

Fundación Balia, Madrid (Spain)


The ‘’implicit” objectives of the SGP are relevant to company and foundation strategies relating to ‘sustainable lives’ and ‘strengthening communities’:

Despite the lack of strategy and guidelines, the SGP is aligned with the current corporate sustainability strategy and foundation strategic framework relating to sustainable lives and support to strengthening communities. The funding is relevant to beneficiary organizations and their needs, who have a positive view of C&A’s corporate citizenship.

Limitations affected business ownership and implementation; but employees are motivated to engage with communities: C&A is the owner of the SGP, but there are several factors which limit business ownership:

(a) the SGP is not widely known by store employees due to limited and fragmented approaches to internal communication; (b) the programme employee engagement concentrated on national headquarter staff and store management (only in Germany) and not directly on employees; (c) lack of mechanisms and incentives to reward positive performance in relation to SGP management; and (d) no reporting or monitoring systems exist. Despite these concerns, 88% of employees interviewed stated they would like to participate in the SGP in the future.

Beneficiary organisations funded were able to address needs of identified target groups in a sustained way:

The SGP supported local organisations targeting vulnerable and socially disadvantaged beneficiary groups - women, children and families - and these grants also helped build the financial capacity of these organisations. These organisations focused on needs of the target groups: 60% of organizations worked on health (23%), education (22%) and social care (15%); 14% on migration. In all cases, most of the beneficiary organizations reported their contact with C&A to be very positive. In cases where repeat grants were given, positive feedback was higher.

The programme contributed towards the reduction of social inequalities / imbalances among target groups. Fifty percent of beneficiary organisations had a focus on reducing social inequalities:

C&A prioritised supporting interventions in communities close to store locations to address needs of socially disadvantaged groups and made a positive contribution to improving the lives of end beneficiaries, and possibly in reducing social inequalities. Approximately 50% of beneficiary organizations are focused on root causes of social imbalances / inequality among target groups and 88% of funded organisations reported accomplishment of expected results. The total number of end beneficiaries that directly benefited from C&A grants was estimated to be 86,500 from 2011-2014.

The scope of the SGP is broad, however, the implied objectives of the SGP are relevant and aligned to the strategies of the C&A business and C&A Foundation. The evaluation highlighted key drivers and challenges based on which the following lessons have been extracted.

“C&A funds substantially contributed to constructing a house where girls with anorexia are looked after and it also helped to finance some of the programmes implemented for these girls.”

Leontien Foundation The Netherlands

What did we learn?


Alignment of SGP with employee engagement strategies is vital to enhance corporate citizenship: The SGP could be a more relevant driver for promotion of employee engagement and for creating a culture of social sustainability amongst employees. An engagement strategy for C&A employees is vital to the success of SGP and holds great potential for alignment with relevant initiatives to engage employees in a common cause while at the same time, making a significant contribution to supporting socially disadvantaged groups.

Clear strategy and guidelines will allow for streamlined and context based operations of the SGP: SGP has been implemented since 2006 without a formal strategy or guidelines and the lack of these, has led to development of a range of approaches from decentralized to centralized. Besides formulating clear guidelines for operations and measurement of results, flexibility in approaches is necessary to permit adaptation in different country contexts. Further, the strategy must be linked to future company-wide approach on employee engagement and volunteering.

Tracking and communicating results crucial for engaging employees and customers as well as enhancing brand perception: Operational procedures and guidance to track and to communicate results as well as employee experiences and stories, internally and externally can play a vital role in assessing the overall impact of the SGP programme, motivating employees more broadly and engaging communities around stores.

Increasing awareness of social issues and incentives amongst employees is likely to motivate their contribution to local communities: While C&A employees generally perceive the SGP as a positive initiative, provision of incentives and consideration of staff workload is important to promote employee participation. Further, raising awareness of store managers and sales staff about social and community issues and the results of the donations is a clear way to motivate employees to engage with local communities. Development of employee engagement guidelines aligned with the overall employee engagement strategy at the global level will not only increase the relevance and strengthen programmatic operations but also chart a systematic way of keeping employees motivated.