Hundreds of volunteers attending an insurance conference in Chicago, Ill., took a chunk of their free time writing thank you notes to servicemen and women and well-wishes notes to children living in low-income situations.
It’s the thought that counts, and that’s the spirit that drives the annual Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Week of Giving, according to Bill Ross, CEO of the nonprofit IICF.
Each year, the IICF Week of Giving seems to be breaking participation records from previous years, and it’s that participation – not the millions of dollars the group raises for charity – that Ross believes is so important for the industry and the community.
“At the end of the day, giving back drives change within a community, and giving back to a community also drives change within an organization and the industry as well,” Ross said. “We learn about a community, we see what their needs are, and we learn how to put our focus on that.”
The IICF’s annual Week of Giving in October brings insurance industry professionals together for a week-long series of volunteer projects to serve local nonprofits and charities in their own communities.
This includes volunteer events designed to support at-risk women, children and youth, the homeless, those with disabilities, senior citizens, military veterans and other areas of focus for IICF divisions.
The year’s Week of Giving was held from Oct. 13 to Oct. 20 and included 560 volunteer projects in the five IICF divisions – Western, Southeast, Midwest, Northeast and United Kingdom – and involved 135 companies and 11,270 volunteer hours in 243 cities, 40 states and two countries.
The projects put people in the community together with employee and executive volunteers, so these insurance professionals aren’t merely writing checks for charity, according to Ross. “They’re putting a face on insurance,” he added.
The aforementioned Week of Giving event in the Midwest involved 600 volunteers attending the Gamma Iota Sigma International Conference in Chicago and spending a day writing hundreds of thank you notes and well-wishes notes to servicemen and women and low-income children.
IICF Midwest also hosted several large volunteer projects, including the IICF Literacy Fair at Breakthrough in Chicago and events at Cradles to Crayons Chicago over a three-day period, where nearly 200 volunteers from numerous insurance companies donated essential items for children living in poverty.
Volunteer projects in the Northeast included building homes, serving meals to the homeless and working with students on interviewing skills.
The folks in the IICF Southeast hosted their annual clean-up, maintenance and beautification project at the National Cemeteries in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston in honor of veterans.
More than 100 projects were part of the Week of Giving in the Western Division. Projects included the Early Literacy Initiative with the Children’s Bureau in Los Angeles, where 1,250 IICF Book Buddies storybooks were donated to the organization to complement the volunteer project.
More than 200 U.K. volunteers representing 20 companies contributed 500 hours of volunteer service in giving 23 projects involving 16 nonprofits in four cities across the country.
Now completing its 25th year in existence as an organization, the IICF has continued to grow the annual Week of Giving program to record highs each of the last three years, according to Ross.
The number of industry volunteers also grew in 2017 from the previous year. Last year, some 10,200 insurance professionals volunteered in 173 cities across the United States and the U.K.
Ross said giving is just part of the insurance industry’s make up.
“The reason that we can exceed goals is because this industry supports philanthropic work,” Ross said.
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