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Charity begins at home… and in the office.
The year 2015 was a record-setting one for charitable giving and volunteering by property/casualty insurance professionals in offices across the insurance industry.
Leading the charitable activities for the industry is the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, or IICF, which held events across the nation in support of programs addressing education, children at risk, health and safety, disaster preparedness, and the environment.
The single biggest week for IICF and the charities it supports was its annual Week of Giving from Oct. 10-17, when the largest number of insurance industry volunteers ever, some 8,577 people in 76 cities across 30 states — provided more than 25,000 hours of service to community nonprofits.
During that week, insurance professionals took part in volunteer projects including food programs, veteran support, homeless programs, and early literacy.
“The Week of Giving represents some of the best that the insurance industry has to offer, with insurance professionals from coast to coast rolling up their sleeves to lend a helping hand to their communities and neighbors in need,” said Bill Ross, CEO of IICF. “It is truly heart-warming to see vast numbers of industry volunteers across the nation uniting to support such great causes.”
IICF’s focus on education has been realized swith its Early Literacy Initiative, which aims to provide literacy tools and resources to underserved children and their families. The program is entering its third year in partnership with Sesame Workshop. IICF has provided grants totaling $750,000 toward the implementation of Every Day is a Reading and Writing Day. This free, online bilingual program gives parents who may not be able to afford other learning tools the access to resources that support children’s early literacy development.
Ross says the initiative and partnership with Sesame Workshop have gone remarkably well. So well that Elmo even made an appearance at another popular IICF event in 2015 — the IICF Women in Insurance Global Conference held in New York City in June. This conference brought together more than 420 professionals from 10 nations for three days of discussion on gender and diversity in the insurance industry.
“During our women’s conference we had a number of executives that were interviewed by Elmo,” Ross said.
The IICF’s Women in Insurance series, which includes a global conference and regional forums, is the largest industry gender initiative today, according to Ross.
The IICF rotates the Women in Insurance global and regional forums biannually. The IICF has already begun making plans for its regional forums in 2016, which will take place in four cities in June. The Women in Insurance Regional Forums 2016 will take place in New York on June 9; Chicago on June 13; Dallas on June 21 and Los Angeles on June 23.
Across the Pond
The IICF also expanded its philanthropic reach across the pond this year– making London its first-ever international chapter.
“Our expansion into the U.K. is a monumental occasion for the IICF, as well as for the entire insurance industry,” said Gary Petrosino, executive vice president at Chubb Group of Insurance Cos. and chairman of IICF’s Board of Governors. “Our growth into the international community represents an important evolution in the insurance industry’s rich tradition of giving.”
Ross said that the IICF model of competitors in the insurance industry coming together and collectively working on behalf of the community in its philanthrophic efforts is somewhat unique in the world, including in the UK.
“To our knowledge there is only one other organization like ours in the U.S. to represent the entire industry and in the UK it’s fairly unique as well,” Ross aid.
Wendy Wilder is serving as the executive director of IICF’s London Division. Wilder brings with her 16 years of strategy and corporate responsibility experience in the private and non-profit sectors in Europe, North America and Asia. Notably, she was head of strategy and planning for AIG UK for three years and also has held consulting roles at Ernst & Young, Charities Aid Foundation, and the Bangladesh-based CSR Centre.
The London division has already held its first annual fundraising dinner and has several events planned for 2016, Ross said.
“Funds will be used to support a local grant program similar to the other divisions, first with a focus on the London area but the division plans to broaden that focus later,” Ross said
Within each IICF division a local grants committee, evaluates and makes recommendations on grants. “Historically we raise money from that region and reinvest back in that region so we don’t take money from one region and move it to another,” Ross said. “It’s a local grants program and we try to understand local needs.”
Aside from national events such as the Week of Giving, IICF held charitable events across its regions, including:
- IICF’s Northeast Division hosted its annual softball tournament in Central Park in July. Here, 12 teams of insurance professionals from various companies came together to raise $50,000 for Our Military Kids, a nonprofit supporting military children.
- In the Midwest Division, IICF’s Rock for Charity event in Chicago entailed of a battle of the bands, where insurance company bands competed to raise $37,000 and grant $25,000 to local Chicago charities. Cleveland’s Oktoberfest brought 350+ insurance professionals together to raise $80,000 for local charities.
- Insurance professionals also came together under IICF to support relief efforts in Texas after severe flooding, raising over $70,000 in funds on behalf of IICF’s Texas/Southeast Division.
- In the Western Division, over 100 insurance professionals attended IICF’s Insuring the Children Golf Tournament, which raised $93,000 for the Child Abuse Prevention Center of Orange County.
IICF has also hosted several benefit dinners this year to support local grant programs. These benefit dinners include the Western Division’s Club100 Dinner, the Midwest’s Blazing the Trail Benefit Event, and Lone Star Legends Benefit Dinner. These events, alongside IICF’s 9th annual Northeast Benefit Dinner, which recently raised $1.26 million in grants for the Northeast division, have united insurance professionals across various companies to give back to their communities in 2015.
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