Canadian Underwriter

Digital Donations

November 25, 2013  

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When it comes to giving back to the community, Calgary-based Sharp Insurance takes action in both traditional and innovative ways.

“Charity work has always been a core part of doing business in Calgary,” says Arla Hillis, business development manager at Sharp Insurance. “With more than 2,500 charitable organizations in the city, there’s no shortage of help needed—many businesses donate money and, more importantly, volunteers from their employee base, to help these organizations regularly.”

Sharp employees embrace this philosophy by teaming up on designated Sundays throughout the year to sponsor, prepare and serve a meal at The DI—the Calgary Drop-in and Rehab Centre. The DI, located centrally in the downtown core, is the largest drop-in centre in the city, providing services for up to 3,500 people per day.

“The actual serving of the meal is what makes the volunteering experience so powerful,” says Sherif Gemayel, president of Sharp Insurance. “We serve the people right at their tables, which helps promote a sense of dignity and respect.”

Gemayel continues enthusiastically, “When we first established Sharp Insurance, we made a point of incorporating a means of giving back to our community in our business model because it helps define who we are and how we work. For example, volunteering at the DI is a great team-building initiative because it helps us work together effectively and it puts many issues in perspective—including how lucky most of us are.”

In addition to its volunteer work at the DI, Sharp has developed its Response-ability™ program, an innovative way to generate donations every time a visitor to their website gets an insurance quote.

It works like this: website visitors request an insurance quote and then select which charity they’d like Sharp to donate $7 to. If the customer likes the quote and decides to buy the policy, Sharp increases the donation to $50.

“We use the Response-ability program as a base for many of our charitable initiatives,” Gemayel explains. “For example, we designed a program for one of our portfolios recently, in which every quote generated resulted in a $7 donation to the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta—an organization helping families fighting childhood cancer through specialized programs and funding.”

Inn From the Cold is another important Calgary charity supported by Sharp through its unique program. This organization helps families who are homeless, or in danger of becoming homeless, get back on their feet through an effective prevention program, which helps vulnerable families stabilize their situation, keep their homes and prevent them from having to move to a shelter.

When asked why it’s important for brokerages to be involved in their community, Gemayel is quick to respond: “It’s important for any business in a community to give back. We all have a responsibility to make sure our community is a safe and prosperous place where people want to live and work and feel good.”

Sharp Insurance is well-known for creative and innovative ways of doing business and this practice naturally extends to its support of community charities and not-for-profit organizations.

“I’m very proud of our team; they’re a solid bunch,” says Gemayel. “At Sharp, we never hire for tech skills—those you can learn—we hire for character, because that’s what really counts.”


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

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.