The South Carolina Aquarium’s lemur-swinging, bamboo shark-swimming “Madagascar Journey” exhibit; Middleton Place’s brand-new Agricultural and Interpretive Space; the Charleston Promise Neighborhood: these are just three of the projects that MeadWestvaco (MWV) has helped bring to fruition in the Lowcountry in 2012. The packaging company—which also manufactures specialty chemicals and deals in community development and land management—may employ 15,000 people in 30 countries worldwide, but when it comes to charitable works, they’re devoted to staying local.
“MWV’s dedication to improving the future through its support of important community, environment, and education efforts is unparalleled,” says Kevin Mills, CEO of the South Carolina Aquarium. “Many companies use philanthropic acts to generate good press, but MWV genuinely sees them as a way to focus on bringing more nature education to the community.”
Mills knows first-hand, as MWV has donated nearly $500,000 to the aquarium’s education efforts since it opened in 2000. As the presenting sponsor of “Madagascar Journey,” the company—which has Community Development and Specialty Chemicals units headquartered locally—is helping to demonstrate the importance of sustainability, a message they hope visitors will apply right here in the Lowcountry.
“Our long history of land ownership in the area has given us a special sense of stewardship of the resources entrusted to us,” explains Kenneth T. Seeger, MWV Community Development and Land Management president. “We’ve protected natural, historical, and cultural resources on our own properties, and we support organizations who share our stewardship vision.”
But with 500 employees involved with more than 20 Lowcountry nonprofits—from the Center for Women to Habitat for Humanity—they support a host of other causes as well, giving grants to charities with which employees volunteer and matching donations to select organizations.
What happens when a Fortune 500 company harnesses not only their own passion for giving but their employees’ too? Well in 2011 alone, MWV gave South Carolina communities nearly $1.3 million in donations and sponsorships. That’s a seriously good investment.
Walking the Walk: This year, MWV made a $100,000 commitment to replace the boardwalk at the Audubon Center in Francis Beidler Forest, a project that will cost an estimated $1.7 million.
Good timing: In 2011, employees devoted some 6,000 volunteer hours to two dozen organizations, including the Center for Birds of Prey, Boy Scouts of America, and Guardian ad Litem.
Gifts & Grants: MWV thanks employees and their spouses who volunteer at least 25 hours a year by giving a $250 grant to the organization they serve. Each household can earn up to three grants annually. Additionally, the company matches personal contributions (up to $2,500) made by employees serving on the boards of nonprofits.