This year has been extremely challenging to say the least. We've entered a virtual life of Zoom work meetings, virtual school, telemedicine and more. Many of us are tired of virtual life and uncertainty. We miss our colleagues and previous routines. But what I find most interesting when I think about 2020 is this: we are not tired of helping others.
At the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation, a unifying force in the industry, we have a unique viewpoint to see what good our industry has done. We have been the philanthropic voice and foundation of the insurance industry for over 25 years, helping communities and enriching lives through grants, volunteerism and leadership. While we've had to run in 2020 in terms of how we run fundraising events, promote volunteer initiatives, and even give out grants to our nonprofits, our supporters haven't missed a moment.
And it is not just the companies that have started. This year we've seen more than 1,500 individual insurance professionals show their own commitment to those in need by generously supporting us with personal contributions. To that end, we will pilot a global membership program for individuals to reinforce the industry's tremendous need to give back on both a personal and corporate level.
The success of IICF & # 39; s COVID-19 Crisis: Children's Relief Fund is testament to that unbridled spirit of giving. To date, the IICF Children's Relief Fund has raised $ 1.3 million in the US and the UK and provided 1.2 million meals to children and families made vulnerable by the pandemic. Those in our industry are aware of how this crisis is disproportionately affecting children and have focused on addressing food insecurity and the lack of educational resources and access. This speaks volumes not only about IICF's commitment to helping through its grants, but also about the generosity of the industry and IICF supporters. As the pandemic continues and we see needs increasing, we will launch a second children's aid fund in 2021.
While IICF has played a central role in its event and volunteer offering, the industry has joined us. We presented new ideas for fundraising and volunteering opportunities, and our supporters accepted the changes with open arms. For example, 1,000 individuals took part in IICF's first International Step Up Challenge, which provided a safe outlet to promote mental and physical well-being and team building for industry professionals, families and friends. The event, which encouraged charity steps while working from home, raised nearly $ 50,000 for IICF & # 39; s Children & # 39; s Relief Fund and a second Step Up Challenge is set to launch in 2021.
Companies and individuals have also embraced various volunteer initiatives, both virtually and in socially remote settings. We've had great success with virtual food and essential needs drivers, virtual book drives, as well as volunteer initiatives involving senior check-in, participation in fake interviews with veterans, and creating audio books for students with learning disabilities.
Furthermore, without the opportunity to meet in person, we had to get creative as we reshaped our fundraising and leadership events. Again, the industry has generously helped us by helping us raise money through virtual trivias, wine tasting, sports classes, and more. This year's annual IICF Northeast Benefit Event, one of our biggest fundraisers of the year – usually held as a New York City gala dinner – received incredible support when industry professionals gathered virtually this month to raise more than $ 860,000 for local non-profit organizations and in honor of Gallagher's philanthropic leadership, the recipient of the IICF Double I Award in 2020, accepted by J. Patrick Gallagher Jr., Chairman, President and CEO of Gallagher.
It seems that through this year of adversity, our industry has come to understand that when we work together to help those in need, the daily frustrations of this virtual life seem less tiring. Individuals want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be part of something that is united together in a common goal, which is exactly what IICF promotes.
"It seems that through this year of adversity our industry has come to understand that when we work together to help those in need, the daily frustrations of this virtual life seem less tiring."
So, despite the challenges of 2020, I am proud to say that our industry has been committed to those in need. At IICF, we have grown steadily and expect to award $ 2 million in grants by 2020, bringing our total grants awarded to over $ 42 million.
Business, education and government may make up the economy, but that fourth wheel is the non-profit sector. COVID-19 has raised the profile of nonprofits, showing that these organizations provide substantial support for disadvantaged communities and individuals. The insurance community recognized this – the brokers, carriers, sellers and individual supporters – and have acted collectively through IICF. Thank you to an industry that couldn't get enough of donations during this tumultuous year, and thank you for letting IICF be the voice that brings the face of the industry forward through charitable donations and volunteering.
Republished from December 21, 2020 on Charity Issue of Insurance Journal Magazine.
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