West Bend Reflects on 125 Years
125 years of strong insurance coverage, safety awareness and community support.
On April 13, West Bend will blow out the candles for our 125th birthday. Founded in 1894, West Bend predates cell phones, credit cards and even seat belts, and yet, our company continues to evolve in an ever-changing world while supporting the needs of Southeast Wisconsin. That’s 125 years of providing insurance coverage, promoting safety awareness, and one of our most valued causes, giving back to our Southeast Wisconsin community.
Southeast Wisconsin has no shortage of worthy causes that need our support to continue their admirable work. That’s why we established the West Bend Mutual Insurance Charitable Trust which, to date, has provided more than $10.5 million to organizations throughout Wisconsin. The West Bend Independent Agents’ Fund has awarded more than $1.4 million to worthy organizations supported by our independent agents.
We’re also very proud of our partnership with the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC Fund). Along with our independent agencies, business partners, and associates, West Bend has raised $2.6 million for the MACC Fund through our biennial fundraising event. We’ve grown our contribution an average of 52 percent biennially at a time when, according to Giving USA, charitable giving has increased about 3 percent annually.
As we celebrate our 125th birthday, we reflect on what we’re doing to foster a culture of generosity among the next generation to sustain what we’ve built:
- Leadership starts at the top, but expect engagement at all levels. Kevin Steiner, president and CEO of West Bend, serves as a director of the MACC Fund. He recognizes the hard work of the directors and staff and enjoys meeting the incredible kids. This knowledge and enriched relationship with the organization solidified his commitment to the MACC Fund. In order to be fully committed to a cause, it’s essential to learn as much as possible and, more importantly, believe in it. Commitment to the cause doesn’t end with West Bend leadership. Throughout the year, our associates and agents participate in events that provide an opportunity to learn more about and support the MACC Fund, as well as other worthy causes. This effort has created a culture of giving in which associates devote their time, effort, and creativity to organize and sponsor fundraisers for these great causes.
- Tap into the loyalty you’ve created. Insurance is a people business and at West Bend, everyone works to deliver superior service because that’s what creates loyalty. Fortunately, this loyalty is returned in spades when West Bend calls on its agents, associates, and business partners to support causes; they open their hearts and wallets time after time.
- Set an example. West Bend has a long history of supporting worthy causes in Milwaukee, southeast Wisconsin, and throughout the Midwest. Leadership consistently receives survey feedback about our associates’ pride for the company’s philanthropy. They see the good it does in their communities and we believe it accounts, in part, for their generosity to worthy organizations.
Deep roots in the community are also key. Whether it’s insuring a nonprofit organization or a fundraising event, sponsoring local sports teams, or supporting community charities, West Bend strives to make Milwaukee a great place, everyday.
As we celebrate a milestone birthday and look ahead, it’s important to understand that like all investments, cultivating a new generation of donors takes time, but it’s critical to creating a sustainable future for treasured nonprofits. As leaders, it’s imperative to communicate with associates about the impact supporting nonprofits has on our communities, to foster loyalty for nonprofits by cultivating loyalty with associates and customers, and to set an example with West Bend’s own corporate philanthropy. We’re proud of our support of worthy organizations like the MACC Fund and we look forward to continuing that support for the next 125 years.
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