Best Business Neighbor Finalist: Dow Chemical
Dow Chemical: Being a Good Neighbor to Midland, Michigan
The Dow Chemical DowGIVES program is the embodiment of a “good neighbor.” The local community will reap the benefits of Dow’s volunteerism, philanthropy and donated expertise efforts for years to come.
In recent years, communities across the country have felt the negative effects of the recession and the Great Lakes Bay Region of Michigan was no different. The region, which includes Dow Chemical’s home town of Midland, Michigan, faced school budget cuts, flailing business support and falling employment.
As Dow saw its community struggling, the company decided to take a stand, to lead a charge to solidify a leadership position in volunteerism and community involvement to spark revitalization. After coordinating and interviewing community members, the company learned there were three key areas of concern for the citizens of the Great Lakes Bay Region: education, economy and environment. These issues became the central focus of DowGIVES – a program to channel the company’s giving of dollars, expertise and volunteerism into the community.
Dow gave $3.2 million in grants and cash donations to regional organizations in 2011. Yet the impact of Dow’s efforts isn’t in the dollars contributed, but in the spirit of community – of a common cause – created among the region.
DowGIVES is a comprehensive effort to encourage volunteerism, better enable employees to act as Dow ambassadors (and contribute to the community success of their communities), provide an avenue for employees and community groups to volunteer and raise funding at the same time, and to track and manage employee volunteer hours.
What Dow Chemical Has Accomplished
The DowGIVES program resulted in a pivotal shift in the company’s local citizenship strategy. Company leaders listened to community needs and priorities, and aligned efforts accordingly. With strong leadership, financial support and an army of employee volunteers, Dow put the full force of its DowGIVES commitment behind several efforts that are having an impact on the region. Key successes of the DowGIVES program include:
- 66 Dow employees used their knowledge and skills to benefit 58 local nonprofit organizations through board membership.
- $90,000 was given to three Habitat for Humanity affiliates to complete the first-ever Great Lakes Bay Region Neighborhood Revitalization Project, which restored 75 homes in 3 counties during one week, with assistance from more than 500 Dow employees and 750 community volunteers.
- $75,000 was given to three employee-submitted projects that utilized over 300 Dow volunteers to revitalize a neighborhood park, install handicapped-accessible sidewalks throughout community baseball diamonds, and build a new restroom and concession stand facility.
Why This Project Makes Sense
Dow gave $3.2 million in grants and cash donations to regional organizations in 2011 and logged thousands of volunteer hours through its VolunteerMatch system. Yet the impact of Dow’s efforts isn’t in dollars contributed, but in the spirit of community – of a common cause – created among the region.
These efforts have not gone unnoticed. In a recent poll, 73% of community survey respondents said they believe Dow plays a positive role in the local community.
Dow’s leadership in the Great Lakes Bay Region will have a positive impact on the community for generations to come. During the process of establishing DowGIVES, the company learned that strong communication with community’s stakeholders – including nonprofit leaders, educations, elected officials and residents – creates a stronger bond and sense of shared purpose for community goals.