Monday, 31 March 2014 23:45

Collision Industry Foundation is Now the Charitable Conscience of the Industry

On January 16, 2014, the Collision Industry Foundation (CIF) held their fourth annual gala fundraiser in Palm Springs, CA. This was the first time the event was not held in Las Vegas, NV, in conjunction with the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) fourth quarter planning meeting, but, according to CIF president William Shaw, the gala was very successful and exceeded CIF expectations.

Nearly 100 people attended the two-hour cocktail reception at Lulu’s Bistro, and the 2014 event saw an increase in the number of underwriting sponsors showcased. CIF began by selling raffle tickets at the door, a venture that raised $820. They also held a silent auction for eight items, including electronics and even an Indy Car Race Package. The auction generated over $4,000.

The CIF goal was to raise $25,000, which they exceeded by raising $32,000. The proceeds from the event will be added to the CIF Disaster Relief Fund, which is used to support industry participants who are impacted by natural disasters. This annual event is a vital part of their efforts to collect donations, and Shaw sees it as a “great opportunity to create awareness and let the industry know how to participate, and that CIF exists to help when disaster strikes…we are really creating good momentum moving forward.”

On March 12, 2014, the board of trustees met in Chicago, IL, to discuss current disaster needs and fund allocations. In addition, the trustees established its goals and plans for the next 12 months.

CIF is also pleased to announce that two new trustees were just elected: Casey Steffen with Saint-Gobain Abrasives and David Henderson with AutaExplore/Autowatch will join the board and work with the CIF to carry on its initiatives.

CIF was created in 2001 by the National Auto Body Counsel (NABC) as a national non-profit organization to collect and distribute charitable funds. The first campaign they supported was Camp Mak-A-Dream in Montana, a program dedicated to helping children and teens suffering from cancer, and they collected over $500,000 for this cause in their first years of operation. The funds were used towards building an on-site healthcare facility for the camp, and, in 2005, CIF supported Camp Mak-A-Dream yet again by donating funds to help purchase a bus for the program.

Since beginning, CIF has supported a number of campaigns, planning and implementing various projects. They supported a three-year campaign called “Crash Hunger” that focused on raising funds to feed Americans. Another project, in 2008, was “Blanket the City: Detroit,” a fundraising effort to support the city that was so disproportionately impacted by economic turmoil. In their attempt to help a broad base of organizations providing vital services to the city, CIF made donations to the Children’s Home of Detroit, Clean Downtown Detroit Partnership, and Gleaner’s Food Bank.

In addition to providing donations to the NABC Recycled Rides program, CIF partnered with SkillsUSA and the World Skills Competition to sponsor the US Collision Team, sending two competitors to the World Skills Competition in Helsinki, Finland. CIF also participates in “Leave Something Behind” initiatives throughout the year, while attending CIC meetings around the nation, this program serves as a gesture of gratitude to the host city. Over the years, this effort has yielded book donations to a Portland library and monetary donations to Children’s Hospitals in Phoenix, AZ, and Washington, DC, as well as Toys for Tots in Las Vegas, NV, and the Utah Food Bank in Salt Lake City, UT.

Though these programs are more than sufficient to illustrate that CIF is “the charitable conscience of the collision repair industry,” when Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005, CIF board of directors created the Disaster Relief Fund to aid victims of natural disasters. Their fundraising efforts allowed them to aid over 100 collision industry professionals impacted by Katrina. This project was so successful that CIF decided to make it an ongoing program, and through their efforts, they’ve supported victims of many natural disasters, including Hurricane Irene, the tsunami in Japan, and, most recently, Superstorm Sandy, which devastated the entire east coast of the United States in the fall of 2012.

All of these programs support the CIF mission “to collect funds from all facets of the collision repair industry to be distributed to repair professionals chosen by the Foundation’s selection committee.” CIF assistance is limited to individuals and not provided to businesses or organizations. A committee reviews all requests and distributes funds based on individual needs. Those interested in helping are encouraged to make donations, join the CIF volunteer committee, or aid with victim location/assistance.

Currently, CIF short-term goals include creating awareness about who CIF is, as well as their mission and vision: to bring awareness and emergency relief to collision repair professionals. Their primary focus remains helping those in need.

Further down the road, Shaw hopes CIF will establish a sustainable fund with “enough money in reserve to help those in need and help subsidize the costs not covered by insurance in the event of a natural disaster. In the meantime, we will continue to support various campaigns in our efforts to reach out and engage the collision repair industry so they can give something back.”

Regarding challenges that CIF faces to maintain operations, Shaw mentions the number of those who need assistance, but he feels that the resolution to this dilemma is “to articulate our message and inform contributors how their donations will be used to support the industry.”

CIF is run by a board of trustees comprised of 12 leaders from all segments of the industry. This group is still in the planning stages of their 2014 agenda, but Shaw hopes to define 2014 goals by the end of the first quarter.

Shaw succinctly wraps up the CIF mission and goals as follows: “We want the collision repair industry to be aware that there are people in need and to encourage them to get involved and give back. We are trying to create a culture that gives back, because the benefits are tremendous for both sides. The message we want to share is this—whether you’re directly involved with CIF or not, it’s very important to get involved with local organizations and to support charities.”

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