National Underwriter Life & Health is pleased to announce that the Insurance Industry Charitable foundation (IICF) is the recipient of the 2011 Industry Elite Award for Industry Awareness.

The IICF was founded in 1994 and it seeks to help communities by combining the efforts of the industry in order to provide grants, volunteer service and leadership. Funded completely by the industry, the Foundation works as a credible intermediary for companies looking to expand their community outreach. This is accomplished by giving companies the access to community relations experts as well as administrative support and help with prioritizing where their donations could be used best. The Foundation also holds an annual volunteer week where industry professionals donate their time by doing neighborhood service and community non-profit work. The IICF has established $17 million in community grants and contributed over 140,000 hours of volunteer service.

IICF CEO Bill Ross mentioned that there was not one specific catalyst that caused the foundation’s formation. “It was originally established by six individuals that got together and celebrated their year by collecting some funds and gave them to the city of Hope, California.” That became an annual tradition that has since grown into a foundation representing a whole industry.

The foundation is able to function through the efforts of Ross and five full-time staff members that have come from eclectic backgrounds, all outside of the insurance industry.

Six years ago, the IICF established a strategic growth model that outlined four regions of the U.S., launching New York as the first region. It launched Chicago this year and it is anticipating launching a division in the southern section in the U.S. soon. This growth, Ross notes, has helped the IICF raise even more funds for its work. Known within the P&C world, it has only recently begun to work with life and health companies.

Upon accepting the Industry Elite award, Ross thanked Bruce Basso and Jim Woods, two of the six original founders that were integral in coming up with the philosophy behind the IICF: to serve as the single philanthropic voice for the insurance industry.