Paying it forward: The Detroit Regional Chamber's RV became a vehicle for chamber-to-chamber support and a case study on how corporate philanthropy can go a long way.

Author:Matter, Julianne
Position:Corporate Philanthropy - Case study

It's been dubbed the "Think Tank," and most recently, the "Pay-It-Forward" trailer. The Detroit Regional Chamber's RV, originally donated to the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce in 2005, has made its way to three other chambers in Mississippi and Texas. Serving cities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina and Ike, the RV has served as a home base for chamber activities, helped local businesses get back on their feet, and provided hard-to-access telephone and internet service.

After Hurricane Katrina hit, the Detroit Regional Chamber put out a call to action to its members, and countless companies donated items for the trailer. "Detroit set a tone within the chamber industry in regards to helping one another," said Kimberly Nastasi CEO of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce. "Detroit's selflessness made us understand the importance of the Chamber network which we now make a priority. When other chambers arc in need in our nation, we're going to do what we can for them. Detroit taught us a very valuable lesson which we intend to pay forward."

The Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce relied on the RV and the supplies that came with it for many months after Katrina hit. With all five local chamber offices destroyed, all the remaining staff worked out of the RV, which came outfitted with office supplies, satellite phones, cell phones and computers.

When the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber loaned the RV to the Hancock County Chamber in Mississippi, they passed on as many supplies as possible, including computers. The computers Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber kept, however, have been relied upon as their main source of technology until a couple months ago.

After a two-year loan to the Hancock Chamber, the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Hancock chambers...

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