The relationship between Dominion Resources and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities dates back to the first Festival of the Book in 1994. Dominion became VFH’s very first corporate sponsor and has supported the Book Festival every year since. Along with its backing of our digital initiatives, their support represents more than $320,000 cumulatively.
Why would an energy company partner with a humanities organization?
“Our customers don’t have a choice for their power needs so it’s important for us to be in all communities. VFH appeals to a state- wide group that communicates with thought leaders and we want them to understand that we are not just selling a product but also a service,” explains Bob Blue, senior vice president for Dominion and a VFH board member. “We’re a company that recognizes the importance of good engineering, but also how it fits into a broader world of art and culture.”
We’re a company that recognizes the importance of good engineering, but also how it fits into a broader world of art and culture.
Marjorie Grier, Dominion’s director of corporate philanthropy and vice president of the Dominion Foundation, notes that, “With the economic downturn, Dominion has focused more on immediate needs, but we also recognize the need for inspiration, things that feed the spirit as well as the body. The Festival of the Book inspires so many people’s minds, taking us away from the humdrum of everyday life and putting hope in our hearts.” She adds, “Books are such a common denominator for all people and it’s rewarding to see the crowds and the diversity represented at the Book Festival!”
Last year, Richmond-based Dominion funded more than $21.3 million in its service areas—70 percent of them in Virginia. While it’s logical for an energy firm to sup – port conservation and environmental needs, being broad-based is of importance, too, and the Foundation’s efforts reach as far as Ohio, Connecticut, and Iowa.
In 2007, when VFH approached Dominion for support for a new digital program, Encyclopedia Virginia (EV), company officials rose to the occasion. Four years later, Dominion came back with support of an affiliated project, the Virginia Indian Archive.
History is crucial to Dominion and its corporate identity, yet giving can be personal, too.
Dominion just celebrated its 100-year anniversary. “Dominion has really grown up with the Commonwealth,” Blue notes, “so the idea of making all of that Virginia history accessible and easier to understand through EV was an investment we wanted to make.” Grier, an avid reader since she was a child, sometimes has to remember that funding the Book Festival is on behalf of Dominion and not only serving her own passions. The company’s supported projects all become personal, in Blue’s words, “because Dominion employees are committed to volunteering time throughout the state and are strongly encouraged to do so as part of Dominion’s corporate culture.”
Dominion has really grown up with the Commonwealth, so the idea of making all of that Virginia history accessible and easier to understand through EV was an investment we wanted to make.
This philanthropic corporate culture, where giving dollars is equal to giving time, is modeled by the company’s CEO Tom Farrell, who is very active in an array of community causes.
Dominion further reinforces this culture of giving back by paying for eight hours a year of employee volunteer time, and through a gift-matching program. Dominion Impact Day allows employees to pick a theme (for example, military veterans in 2012) and volunteer their time to organizations with ties to that theme. Dominion then donates $1000 on behalf of each staff volunteer.
VFH was delighted to welcome Bob Blue to our board of directors in 2011. Bob admits to thinking he knew a lot about his home state of Virginia at the time, but says he has since learned so much from serving on the Board, especially about smaller areas of the state that receive little notice.
Special thanks go to Marjorie Grier, who retires in May, and Bob Blue whose work continues to strengthen the reach of the humanities in the Commonwealth.