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Teachers’ Pet Projects

For this brokerage, giving is more than an extra-curricular activity

You could hear a pin drop in the room. That’s how one man recalls the atmosphere as a neonatal nurse addressed a crowd at the Ontario Teachers Insurance Plan (OTIP) Charity Golf Classic. It had been a festive day of golf, prizes and money raised for worthy causes. But as the nurse thanked OTIP for its support, the banquet room fell silent thinking about the lives that would be changed by the OTIP Community Fund.

OTIP knows its market and selects its charitable works to make a difference in the lives of the people it insures. This strategic giving is highly effective at connecting OTIP with its market, but when it’s from the heart, it also changes lives.

“We care about making a difference in the lives of children, parents and our insured members in the education community,” says Chris Floyd, president of OTIP’s individual insurance services. “We provide much more than insurance services to teachers’ unions … our fundraising efforts provide support for the causes that impact their lives.”

OTIP has a rich history of preparing children for social and academic success. Its employees work with Send’ em Off Smiling, a charity that provides clothing and school supplies to children in need.

“Helping children ‘fit in’ with their classmates is important to developing positive self esteem. This program makes a difference in the lives of underprivileged children and connects us with the education industry in a tangible way,” says Geoff Deleplanque, chief administrative officer at OTIP.

OTIP goes even further than providing backpacks and school supplies. One of OTIP’s greatest charitable achievements is saving a bereavement program that helps families deal with the loss of an infant. The program, called Memories of a Gentle Presence Bereavement program at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), was slated to close until OTIP stepped in with necessary funding.

“We weren’t going to let the bereavement program be shut down. The loss of a child is a difficult topic, but we’re committed to being there for families in the most difficult times,” says Floyd.

OTIP has dedicated nearly 25 years to raising money and awareness for several worthy causes including the SickKids Foundation, the Canadian Cancer Society’s Great Ride ‘n’ Stride, Nutrition for Learning and countless other charity groups. OTIP has also been instrumental in supporting youth and education ideas in the Aviva Community Fund.

“To date, we’ve raised over $1.4 million through the OTIP Community Fund. Most of the money is raised by our signature fundraising event, the OTIP Charity Golf Classic,” says Floyd, who also serves as co-chair of the Charity Golf Classic Committee.

This year’s tournament raised a record $93,000, an encouraging sign that they will reach next year’s goal of $100,000. “It’s not just the amount we raise that grows every year … what also grows is the feeling that we’re making a substantial difference in our community,” says Anita Chamberland, business development specialist and co-chair of the Charity Golf Classic Committee.

To participants of the OTIP Charity Golf Classic, the heartfelt address delivered by a nurse from SickKids will forever drive home the fact that OTIP’s charity work changes lives.

“Our commitment to giving back is one of the reasons I’m so proud to say I work at OTIP. It’s more than just lip service, they really mean it. It makes me very proud of everything we’ve accomplished,” says Chamberland. And that is truly a pride well earned.

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Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine

Transcontinental Media G.P.