Broker Words—December 2022

As I’m “penning” this masterpiece I’m thankful for the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies (NAILBA), having just returned home from their annual conference. I must confess that I don’t spend much time in the meetings or general sessions despite the great work of organizers and sponsors bringing in ever more inspiring and informative speakers and having a knack for developing most-relevant topics for panel discussions.

I probably should, but I just can’t find the time…and for a very specific and special reason. I’ve truly been blessed with more great friends in my 38 years of service to this great industry, and approximately 35 NAILBA annual conventions, than I could easily count—and many of them gather at this great event. If you’re reading this you know who you are, because you bring an instant grin to my face when I see you. It’s a great time for me to catch up with these friends, and it seems like the main times that we don’t feel pulled a dozen different directions in a throng of attendees is when the meetings are in session. Those are the times we can really relax and chat for any decent period of time. Besides, I’ve got good friend Brittany Nielsen to rely on for better pictures of the sessions and speakers than I could ever take.

We say that this is a relationship business, and these friendships are by far the greatest gift I’ve been given in my life, with the important exceptions of my parents and my appropriately named wife Hope (I’m no longer Hopeless!). I’ve been making a concerted effort to tell folks how much their friendship means to me and I tried hard at this year’s NAILBA…particularly while I was picking their pockets for the NAILBA Charitable Foundation. And thus, the segue…

Hope and I, variously, have served on the board of this great foundation for eight of the past nine years, and I’m back on the board for another two years starting in 2023. The mission of the NAILBA Charitable Foundation is to encourage volunteerism among NAILBA members and provide grant funds to worthy charitable organizations that serve to enhance the quality of life for those less fortunate, with a special emphasis on children. Every charitable organization applying for grant funding must be sponsored by a NAILBA member agency, exhibitor, sponsor, or advertiser. Since 2002, the NAILBA Foundation has raised and contributed over $3.5 million to more than 245 deserving charities and community organizations nationwide. At the NAILBA annual convention, Foundation Board President Jim Sorebo announced that $180,000 in grants were awarded with 39 charities receiving at least a four figure contribution. This year’s Felton Grant, named after the founder of the NAILBA Charitable Foundation, Col. William J. Felton, and the Foundation’s largest grant each year, gave $20,000 to The Formation Project of North Charleston, SC, providing housing and shelter support for survivors of human trafficking.

At this year’s NAILBA conference contributions for the Charitable Foundation from carriers and marketing groups totalled $105,250, auctioneer extraordinaire Steve Katz raised more than $60,000 at the live auction, and Foundation members sold more than $25,000 in tickets for the Foundation raffle. The Artful Dodger would be proud of them! All this in addition to funds raised at Mutual of Omaha’s Casino Night after the awards dinner and many other contributions from NAILBA agencies, carriers, vendors and individual contributors throughout the year.

At NAILBA’s premier event, the Mooers Award dinner, a video is shown highlighting grant recipients and several times during the presentation I had to wipe my eyes seeing pictures of kids and families these funds will help.

I encourage you to help in the Foundation’s great work by making a contribution via their website

Well “Tis the Season” seems to be a catch-all for everything from endless carol loops running in all the stores, to long lines virtually everywhere, to that “Bold Adventurer” who cuts you off to make a three lane exit from the highway… But what it really “tis” is the season for giving. My wife and I are not the world’s most accomplished philanthropists, but we like to think we do a decent job. A local homeless shelter, a local food bank, The Humane Society of Greater Kansas City, a wonderful cat rescue named Kitty City here in Lenexa, and several others get donations throughout the year. And of course the Salvation Army and their intrepid bell ringers get a twenty most times I pass one, along with my thanks for the work they are doing. But the best feeling Hope and I get each year is at the local Walmart or Target, where we each pack a cart with Toys4Tots, wheel it to the checkout and then to the office where donations are stored. It’s amazingly fun to wander the toy aisles picking out the toys you know you would have enjoyed at different stages of your childhood. My cart always seems to have a preponderance of Hot Wheels and super hero action figures. Hope’s…not so much. As in most things, she’s better at this than I am.

I say this not for any type of acclaim—I think it lessens the act. And I’m certain that most if not all of you give generously to the charities that matter to you. But with the pandemic and painful inflation, charities of all types are experiencing harder times than usual. And it doesn’t take Nostradamus to figure out that even more families will be hurting this year than in the recent past. So I ask you to pick out some older coats and gloves, or buy new ones, and drop them off at the Salvation Army’s Project Warmth. Grab some canned goods and drop them in the bins available at every grocery store or send a check to your local food pantry. Drop a few bucks in the red kettle and thank the bell ringer. Donate pet food to your local animal shelter for their giving program. And maybe most heartwarming of all in my experience…swing a cart down the toy aisle. I can promise you you’ll be glad you did.