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Charity Is Abundant Among Our Industry: Take A Look At What’s Being Done

By Annie George

Posted on 23 Mar 11

Late last year we featured an article about the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) and the amazing work they do through fundraising, volunteering, and donating to nonprofits on a local and national level. It’s a collaborative effort comprised of professionals throughout every facet of the insurance industry: reinsurers, insurance agents and brokers, property/casualty insurers, health/life companies and related advertising, public relations, law, accounting, computer, and other companies. Most recently, I attended the IICF’s Club100 Dinner in Los Angeles, California where they raised $50,000 for a number of nonprofits.

In the same newsletter issue, I also asked you – our customers and readers – to let me know what you’re all doing to contribute to your local communities. Whether you’re a small agency, large brokerage, wholesaler, so many of you are lending a helping hand in ways that are invaluable. Here’s a snapshot of how some of you are helping:

The CIMA Companies, Inc., one of the largest independent property/casualty and employee benefits brokers in the nation, established the CIMA Giving Program about 20 years ago, to provide contributions to many of its nonprofit customers as well as other nonprofits. Bill Henry, vice president of CIMA, said: “It’s a way of reinvesting in the people and institutions that make our own success possible. The contributions are modest, because there are many more deserving organizations than we have resources to support. Over the past several years our staff also has volunteered many hours for several local nonprofits – typically this involves our participation when a nonprofit has a major fundraising event, workday, or celebration, and volunteers are needed on site to help the event go smoothly. We also provide up to 12 hours paid leave per year for employees who wish to contribute their time in this way.”
The Burns Agency, based in Clinton, New York, had donated $6,500 (as of November 2010) to local organizations including: United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, Rescue Mission, Local Theater, Local Art Center, Local Cancer Groups, Association for Blind, Local School Books, Support of Local School Teams & Theater, Local Library, Local Kids Sports Leagues and Teams, Local Women’s Group, Local Fire Dept., etc. David Burns, president of the agency, wrote: “The amount we’ve donated is addition to what the employees may do personally. We are proud of our support and certainly realize a community is what you make it.”
Robann Belcher, customer service manager/agent of Western Sage Insurance, in Las Vegas, Nevada, wrote: “As our office is small (only three of us), and we partnered with another local group and collected underwear and socks for a nearby school that has many homeless children enrolled. Together we collected over 100 pairs of socks and about 80 pairs of underwear for both little girls and boys. The school was very grateful since many of the K-4th graders come to school under-clothed for the winter.” 

Dave Willis, senior associate of The Aartrijk Group, emailed me about The Redwoods Group and the great work they are doing (he wrote a feature article about the organization for Rough Notes last year). Headquartered in North Carolina, Redwoods provides property/casualty insurance underwriting, risk management and claims adjusting services for three customer groups: YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, and resident camps. As part of its commitment to serve others, Redwoods has steps in place to ensure that its employees take an active role in the communities in which they live. Employees are able to use work hours to donate their time to local non-profit organizations, working in their churches, at their children’s schools, in the fight against cancer, and at various community organizations. Additionally, the firm matches employee charitable contributions dollar for dollar, up to $1,000 per employee per year, and with no limit for United Way contributions. Under Redwoods' volunteerism support program, dubbed "Dollars for Doers," the company donates $10 for each hour an employee volunteers at a charity outside of normal work hours, up to $300 per employee each year.

Alberta-based Western Financial is the largest Property/Casualty bro­kerage in the region with1,300 employees in 92 offices in 83 communities across Western Canada. Western supports larger infrastructure and local initiatives in the communities it serves through The Western Communities Foundation, its own non-profit arm. The company and its staff are among the leaders, contributing about $255,000, from larger community grants to small local donations.  “Caring is built into our corporate culture,” says Bill Rogers, senior VP. “We’re very community-oriented, and it’s actually written into our guiding principles that it’s part of our community responsibility to help others. Internally, our slogan is ‘Because We Live Here’. That really gives us a powerful directional imperative to be an integral part of our neighborhoods.”

Proceeds from the Communities Foundation go toward things like defibrillator programs for communities, bursary awards for young people and grants for community infrastructure such as swimming pools.

In addition to raising direct funds for charitable causes, Western employees donate thousands of hours of volunteer time. “They contribute on their own in a very big way. We estimate that last year they put in 50,000 hours of volunteer work for a variety of causes. These included work for Habitat for Humanity, coaching youth sports, helping out at food kitchens and food banks, aiding seniors’ projects and working at women’s shelters and hospices,” said Rogers.

When the devastating earthquake struck Haiti last year, two Western employees created a fund, with all proceeds going to shelter boxes, which included a tent, at a cost of $1,000 each. The goal was to raise enough for 10 boxes, but got 25, which was enough to house 250 Haitians.

Great going to all of you! Thank you.