Hundreds of volunteers from the insurance industry descended on the National Veterans cemeteries in October in Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth to assist with maintenance and cleanup.
Volunteers in Chicago from several insurance companies worked together to sort and size clothing and prepare warm things for children in underserved communities to wear, while across town other volunteers read to children and led engaging literacy activities.
Volunteers in Philadelphia wrote well-wish cards to U.S. servicemen and servicewomen. And across the pond at White Chapel Mission in London homeless were served breakfast.
Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation reported records for the number of volunteers, volunteer hours and number of cities for its Week of Giving in October 2017, despite it being a month that will be remembered by many in the insurance industry for ferocious hurricanes and historic wildfires.
The number of industry volunteers grew in 2017 by 20 percent from a year earlier for a total of nearly 10,200 insurance professionals joining together to support those in need, the group reported.
IICF also reported more than 28,800 hours of volunteer service in 173 cities across the United States and the U.K. — that’s roughly 60 more cities than last year.
Held this year from Oct. 14-21, IICF’s annual Week of Giving brings insurance industry professionals together for a week-long series of volunteer projects to serve local nonprofits and charity organizations in their own communities.
This includes volunteer events designed to support at-risk women, children and youth, the homeless and food insecure, those with disabilities, senior citizens, military veterans and other areas of focus for IICF divisions.
Projects are designed to allow industry volunteers the opportunity to give back to the communities where they live and work, and support nonprofits providing vital services at the local level.
The record turnouts for the Week of Giving this year, which followed a record last year, weren’t the biggest surprise for Bill Ross, CEO of the IICF.
What surprised him was that the numbers were up at all considering the event took place as California was experiencing the worst wildfires in state history in October, a month that came on the heels of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
It was a time when many in the insurance industry were busy responding to claims, dealing with clients and tallying up massive losses.
“I think we were concerned that we might not see the level of performance that we had traditionally had,” Ross said.
The lesson he took away from the pleasant surprise is that people enjoy getting out and giving.
“Even with the challenge of the hurricanes and wildfires, I think that what we see is that people really want to get out and help,” Ross said.
He also credited the growth in participation to the growth of the IICF itself.
Beside four U.S. divisions and one U.K. division, there are now nine IICF chapters, and in the past few years they launched eight associate boards, which involve younger people in the industry. Last year, the IICF expanded with boards in Washington and Houston. The group now has 22 boards in the U.S. and U.K.
Since inception of the foundation in 1994 the group has organized more than 100,000 volunteers giving in excess of 270,000 hours, according to the IICF.
The IICF is a nonprofit that reports contributing $28.7 million to hundreds of charities and nonprofit organizations.