The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) raised more than $880,000 at its 14th annual Northeast Benefit Event, held virtually this year on December 9.
Established in 1994, the IICF is a nonprofit that works with the insurance industry to help communities through grants, volunteer service and leadership. Donations from the Northeast Benefit Event support nonprofits and charities focused on education, at-risk children and the environment, in addition to supporting organizations providing food and vital services during the pandemic to those struggling in the New York tri-state region.
“Particularly this year, I think, was more meaningful than ever both to our board and to the community,” said Betsy Myatt, executive director of the IICF Northeast Division and IICF vice president and chief program officer. “I think it really speaks of the insurance industry at its best.”
The event gathered more than 380 insurance professionals and leaders in philanthropy for a virtual evening celebrating charitable giving and volunteerism throughout the year while fundraising to continue giving back to the community, according to an IICF press release.
Myatt said although the benefit has become a holiday tradition in which meeting virtually instead of in-person was a big change this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was inspired by the turnout for the celebration and the generosity of IICF’s member companies, event sponsors and insurance industry professionals, particularly at a time when the pandemic has created even more challenges for vulnerable communities.
“I think it just shows the insurance industry at its best that nobody really received anything,” she said. “They didn’t get a big, fancy dinner.
They didn’t get to network with people. They didn’t get a bottle of wine and a plate of cheese. They were doing it for all the right reasons. So I think this year to me was in many ways more special than any of the in-person events that we’ve held. Although those are wonderful too, and we certainly hope to be together next year.”
As part of the event, IICF gave its Double I award to Gallagher, accepted on behalf of the entire organization by Chairman, President and CEO J. Patrick Gallagher Jr. The award, named because it recognizes influence in the industry and impact in the community, was presented by Dino E. Robusto, chairman and CEO of CNA Financial Corporation.
“I think it’s been really impressive to look into what [Gallagher has] done with their growth over the years,” Myatt said. “They started out fairly small, and now with their merger and acquisition strategy, they’re in more than 150 countries.”
Gallagher serves as a property/casualty insurance brokerage and risk management service provider, as well as a third-party claims administrator globally. Offering insurance and risk management solutions and client-service capabilities through its own operations and strategic partnerships, Gallagher has worked to grow through its merger and acquisition strategy during its more than 90-year history.
“That’s the influence in the industry part,” Myatt said, “but I think really more important even than that to IICF is [Gallagher’s] impact to the community.”
Indeed, the company holds a list of 25 tenets, called The Gallagher Way, that emphasize the importance the company places on shared values and a culture of ethics and service.
Former Chairman Robert E. Gallagher wrote them more than three decades ago, and today, they are found in each Gallagher office around the world. Tenets include sentiments such as “we support one another,” “we can all learn from one another,” and “we all need one another.”
“The first time I went into the Gallagher offices in New York, I was in a conference room where they had the Gallagher Way tenets on the wall,” Myatt said. “It really emphasizes the importance that the company places on their shared values and the culture.”
This is evident in the more than 100,000 hours of service in 35 countries Gallagher provided to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2018, Myatt said. “The IICF exemplifies our industry’s dedication to helping those in need, and Gallagher is honored to be awarded the Double I Award for our impact on the industry and influence in the community,” said J. Patrick Gallagher Jr. in an emailed statement. “I think Gallagher employees would say that it is their job to manage risk, but it’s their mission to help protect communities. Giving back is a big part of Gallagher’s 90-plus year heritage. While I can’t predict what will happen in the next 90 years, I can say that we will continue our commitment to communities and the industry. That’s The Gallagher Way.”
Proceeds from the event support grants to Boys Hope Girls Hope, Center for Safety & Change Inc., Children’s Health Fund, Friends of Karen, Fulfill, Henrik Lundqvist Foundation, Mount Kisco Child Care Center, Table to Table and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City.
Highlighted this year were the direct benefits IICF has been able to deliver to children in need with contributions to the event, including thousands of backpacks filled with weekend meals and providing vision care for children in underserved communities, offering eye exams and two pairs of glasses to those needing them.
Myatt said that particularly as the COVID-19 crisis extends into 2021, the insurance industry is well-positioned to continue providing help for those who are in need.
“The truth of the matter is this is going to be a long-term problem for so many people, even after we get the much-needed vaccine,” she said. “It’s going to take a while, and people are going to need help. The insurance industry can certainly come together and make a real impression on people that are in need.”
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