Innovating Impact: PIMA’s Volunteer Event Rethinks Conference Giving

Written by Anastacia Barbosa

Content Marketing Manager, Bostrom

This summer, the Professional Insurance Marketing Association (PIMA) hosted its annual Summer Insights Conference from June 26th through June 29th in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

The Bostrom client team for PIMA executed the meeting planning from beginning to end with finesse, but what was different about this year was the launch of PIMA Cares, a charitable initiative focused on giving back.

Strategizing for a Meaningful Initiative

Alex Morales, PIMA’s Director of Operations, and Ramona Hopkins, PIMA’s Director of Membership, strategized on what could realistically be done to host a successful charitable event at a business conference that went beyond just requesting donations.

Previous charitable initiatives were for the greater good, but they needed to have the impact the team would have liked.

“Attendees already pay for air travel, conference registration, hotel room, and meals. A monetary donation on top of all these expenses would feel like an added expense. We wanted to do something memorable that the attendees would feel good about. So, just taking donations for a cause was an option quickly dismissed,” Morales mentioned. “We worked with the board and volunteers within PIMA to get a sense of what they wanted to do and what they thought their fellow members would be capable and ready to do,” Hopkins noted. “A volunteer came forward with the idea for meal packing after researching Rise Against Hunger.” 

Rise Against Hunger is a global non-profit organization that alleviates hunger by orchestrating meal-packing drives and delivering food packages to developing countries.

Image via Rise Against Hunger®

“Rise (Against Hunger) was so well organized,” Hopkins continued, “and they provided us with all the information we needed, including food safety training requirements, waivers for volunteers, and details on what event supplies we would need to provide.”

Approaching Challenges and Specifics

The idea was great, but the following challenges presented themselves: who would pay for the supplies, how many volunteers would be needed, and where this would happen amongst the busy conference schedule.

Morales and Hopkins realized they would need about 80 volunteers, which would be a feat, considering the conference registrants averaged about 120. They also had to provide the volunteers and a venue to pack 15,000 meals. And it couldn’t come at the conference’s or client budget’s expense.

Seeking Sponsors for the Event

To back this initiative, the Bostrom team sought to secure sponsors, specifically among the members and attendees. 

“When looking for sponsors, we broke up Rise Against Hunger’s cost into thirds but offered six sponsorships to aid in the sales process.” Morales detailed. He noted that if they garnered at least three sponsors, they would break even, and that’s just what they did, which is impressive for an inaugural event. “If any profit were to be made, it would have just been applied to next year’s charity event.”

A Successfully Executed Initiative

With the event sponsored, the cost was covered, and PIMA was able to repurpose a smaller ballroom space for the event that was already part of their hotel contract. The day of the event arrived, and there was no better day than June 28th, National Insurance Awareness Day. 

Alex Morales, PIMA’s Director of Operations and Bostrom Account Executive, helps a volunteer at the PIMA Cares event.

Breaking the Pareto Principle (better known as the 80/20 rule), more than two-thirds of conference attendees showed up to volunteer, donning aprons, hair nets, and gloves. A brief safety training took place, and the table teams were off! 

“Every time a thousand kits were packaged, a volunteer struck a gong to keep up morale and efficiency!” Morales noted. “It was a blast! The attendees were clearly enjoying the camaraderie of the volunteer event.”

There was no lag in packing; all 15,000 meal kits were done in 2 hours!

“It was amazing. You have to understand these volunteers aren’t just regular business conference attendees; these are C-Suite insurance executives who showed up and rolled up their sleeves to do hands-on work for a great cause.” Hopkins recalled.

Successes and Lessons to Build Upon for 2024

The feedback received was all positive. Attendees still mention that it was the highlight of their conference experience, and the board asked what the team had in mind for next year’s summer insights event. 

“We couldn’t be more thankful and relieved that this event was as successful as it was,” Morales stated. “Though we did learn some lessons for future events and how we want to approach them.”

Ramona Hopkins, PIMA’s Director of Member Services, helps measure and pack meals at the Inaugural PIMA Cares charitable initiative this past June.

For instance, Morales and Hopkins noted that PIMA Cares events would be held annually,  only at their summer insight conference, one of two meetings PIMA holds each year. Also, although the international reach of Rise Against Hunger is impressive, the membership suggested volunteering in the future to benefit local charities in the city where the conference is located that year. 

Riding out the success of this year, they plan to carry over the volunteer attendees and, hopefully, the sponsors into next year’s event with a more concrete timeline and event plan that only continues to build and become stronger. 

“It was such a wonderful experience. We’re so glad we got to be hands-on from beginning to end. Not only is the client looking forward to doing it again, but we are, too.” Morales said.

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