Community Giving Spotlight: How and Why IAs Give Back

Turning the lens on Asian culture

Independent insurance agents are dedicated to supporting their communities

Service is at the core of the insurance industry. Every day, independent agents help protect their clients from financial loss and provide them with peace of mind when they need it most. But they do so much more.

The vast majority of independent agents across the country also work to improve their communities by regularly volunteering their time and talents and donating money, goods and services.

To learn more about how and why agencies develop charitable giving programs, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance partnered with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America to survey nearly 475 independent agents. Our questions explored the types of charities independent agents give to, how they donate and the effects it has on their communities as well as their businesses.

The survey revealed three main points:

  • Independent agents are heavily involved with local nonprofits.
  • They believe their contributions help their communities in significant ways.
  • Agencies plan to continue giving at similar or increased levels.

Among survey respondents, 65% said they intend to volunteer the same amount of time as they did last year and 29% plan to volunteer more in the coming year.

Caring

96%

Independent agents donate to charity

Together

74%

Agencies volunteer as a team

Committed

29%

Agencies plan to volunteer more in the coming year

Why IAs choose to give back

As a group, independent agents lead the way in giving back to their communities. Our survey revealed that 96% of independent agents donate to charity, compared with 75% of all small businesses, according to the US Small Business Association. That remarkable number shows the deep commitment agents have to their communities, and the impressive scope of their collective giving.

Our survey also showed that most agents believe their philanthropy is worthwhile and effective. When agents were asked if their charitable contributions had a positive effect on the community, 82% strongly agreed.

And while we learned that altruism, rather than ROI, is the main reason agencies start a philanthropy program, a majority of agents reported that their contributions also brought in new businesses. When asked how their philanthropy makes a difference, agents’ top five answers were:

1

Helps community members in need

2

Provides critical resources to the organization

3

Builds community relationships.

4

Encourages others to contribute

5

Boosts the reputation of the charity or community organization

A quote from Tyler about how no one can compete with the hearts of IAs and thei commitment to community. We will continue to support agents to build safer and stronger communities for everyone.

-Tyler Asher, President, Independent Agent Distribution at Liberty Mutual Insurance

How agencies give back

Our survey revealed that 92% of agencies donate time and 94% give money. This shows that hands-on involvement is considered nearly as important as financial support. Donating time also forms personal connections to nonprofits that further strengthens the bonds between agencies and their communities.

This is particularly true of millennials and Gen Z employees, as emphasized in a 2020 report by McKinsey & Company that examined charitable giving across the insurance industry: “Thanks to the expanded influence of millennial employees, the industry is evolving traditional approaches to charitable giving and putting more emphasis on volunteerism as the industry seeks deeper community connections.”

We also found that small agencies are more likely to volunteer time than large agencies, while more than half of all large agencies (those with more than $1.25 million in annual revenue) donate at least $10,000 annually.

When it comes to how agencies approach volunteering, our study found that:

74%

Agencies volunteer as a team

69%

Agencies offer paid time off for its employees to volunteer

37%

Agencies invite their clients to get involved with their philanthropy

The following graphic compares donation patterns among small and large agencies.

INSERT DONUT CHART IMAGE

Since independent agents are a diverse group overall, it’s not surprising they support a wide variety of organizations and causes. But some are more popular than others. The causes that receive the most industry support include:

  • Hunger relief
  • Education and youth programs
  • Animal welfare
  • Arts and culture
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Disability support services
  • Support for members of the military and their families
  • Health, safety and human services
  • Religious organizations
  • Fraternal organizations

How philanthropy benefits business

In today’s business climate, charitable giving has become an expectation, making it more important than ever to a company’s brand. This demand comes from two directions. Consumers want to do business with companies that give back, and workers want to join companies with active philanthropy programs. This is particularly true of millennials and Gen Z. As a group, 60% say that they look for a company that matches their values when job hunting.

 

A quote from the Big I about business impact of giving back, related to the job market: recruiting, professional development, employee retention and loyalty.

A leader with the Big I

 

There are many signs that corporate giving has gone mainstream. In 2019, CEOs from more than 180 of the largest corporations in America adopted a Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation that put supporting local communities on par with providing shareholder value — a seismic shift from a generation ago. As discussed above, independent agents have been ahead of this curve, with the majority of agencies already engaging in community giving efforts over generations.

Doing good can also be good for business. In our survey, agents overwhelming said they support local nonprofits in order to help their communities — and virtually no respondents said they do it for business growth opportunities. Yet most agents also acknowledged the business benefits of being charitable. For example, 53% said their charitable giving has increased referrals to their agency, a finding that fits into a larger trend.

According to research conducted by the global marketing intelligence firm Mintel, 73% of Americans’ purchasing decisions are affected by a company’s philanthropy. What’s more, half of all Americans, and 61% aged 41 and younger, say they would switch to a company that supports a cause they believe in.

Regardless of the level of giving, philanthropy helps agencies form lasting connections with clients and prospects. As many agents mentioned in our survey, agency giving doesn’t have to be big at first. The most important thing is to start. Then, once a giving program is in place, there are many opportunities for agencies to amplify the effects of their philanthropy.

 

Grow your community impact

Ten ways independent agencies can amplify their giving efforts to make a greater community impact:

  1. Invite clients to volunteer alongside your agency.
  2. Start a donation-driven referral program.
  3. Encourage your staff to serve on the boards of nonprofits you support.
  4. Collaborate with a favorite nonprofit to help them market their mission – while also highlighting your agency’s involvement with the nonprofit.
  5. Get inspired by what other independent agents are doing across the country.
  6. Create or co-sponsor an annual charity event.
  7. Offer free advice to nonprofits about risk management and other insurance issues important to them.
  8. Use your office as a drop off location for food drives, holiday toy drives, clothing drives and similar community efforts.
  9. Offer a matching gift program to your employees or paid time off for them to volunteer.
  10. If your agency is appointed with Liberty Mutual or Safeco Insurance, apply for a Make More Happen Award to help a nonprofit earn up to $10,000.

Make More Happen Awards

As community leaders, independent agents are in a strong position to improve the cities and towns in which they live, work and serve — while increasing awareness of nonprofit organizations doing remarkable things. If your agency wants to start or grow a community giving program, Liberty Mutual and Safeco are here to help.

The Make More Happen Award is our largest donation program for appointed independent agents who demonstrate extraordinary volunteerism with a local community nonprofit. The award comes with up to a $10,000 grant to the nonprofit on behalf of the agency, public relations support, and a feature story on AgentGiving.com.

Survey methodology

The Community Involvement and Charitable Giving Survey was conducted during the fall of 2021 by Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. Survey respondents’ revenues range from very small (under $150,000) to very large (over $10 million). About three-quarters (73%) of the respondents had revenues between $500,000 to $9.9 million. From rural/small area (<50,000) to large metro area (1-plus million) — almost half of the respondents (45%) said their agency is in a rural/small area.