5 ways to determine whether foundation is virtuous

5 Ways to Determine Whether a Foundation is Virtuous or Not

One of the highest virtues of being a human is our capacity to help one another in times of duress. Based in Florida, Health Insurance Innovations Foundation has seen many a hurricane hurl past and cause immeasurable damage.  When tragedy strikes, be it or volcano eruption or children stuck in underwater caves, human nature to want to help but often we don’t know how.

Fortunately, there are millions of people working for foundations and organizations working to make the world a better place, one action at a time. The tricky part is ensuring donations have their intended effect, and discerning who is acting selflessly and who is acting selflessly isn’t always obvious.

When tragedy strikes, organizations will come out of the woodwork soliciting donations. Some of them are well known, like the Red Cross. However, a recognizable name doesn’t mean that your donations are going where you want them to go and making a positive impact. The Red Cross is notorious for their lack of efficacy and transparency during disaster time, from the Earthquake in Haiti, to Hurricane Katrina, to Hurricane Harvey, and much more. They never tell where your money is going to go, rely too heavily on donated goods which results in a surplus of supplies that aren’t useful, in some cases have been criminally negligent, and in worse casesmislead Congress.

Clearly, we need to do a better job researching organizations who take money promising disaster relief and holding them accountable. Here are 5 tools ways to help determine whether a foundation or charitable organization is virtuous and transparent.

  • There is a tool offered by the IRS that searches their databases called “The Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool”. You enter the name of an organization like “American Red Cross” and you can see if the organization is tax exempt or not. This is very important because some organizations claim 501(c)(3) tax exempt status when they really are not and operate for profit, which means your donation won’t be tax deductible.
  • Charity Navigator is a website that has evaluated over 8000 tax exempt charities with different metrics such as financial health, accountability, and transparency in order to help donors make the most informed decisions about where they choose to donate and how they can have maximum impact. If you don’t see the organization you want to donate to it’s possible that organization won’t have the helpful effect you’re hoping for during disaster time and you should consider another one.
  • GuideStar maintains information on 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Financial documents, such as the 990, help you evaluate the legitimacy of an organization. The 990 discloses where and how an organization’s donations are spent, including the earnings of top officers. All nonprofits are required to have up-to-date 990’s available to the public. If an organization does not have this info readily available or is not forthcoming if you request it from them, you may want to reconsider your donation.
  • Charity Watch rates charities on important metrics like advice, articles, and basic information that are open to the public, but members-only access gives further insight into specific charities. They also expose instances of abuse. To become a member and access all of their reports, you have to make a donation.
  • Give.org helps donors by evaluating organizations based on the criteria set by 20 different standards that include governance and oversight, effectiveness, finances, solicitations, and informational materials, for which charities earn a point each. If an organization does not score a 20 out of 20, the chances are something shady might be happening, and you might want to look elsewhere to make donations. .

More Suggestions for Donors:

Reputable charities and organizations have many different secure payment option that aren’t limited to cash donations. Be wary of any who are soliciting cash only donations or asking for help via text. e careful with giving your credit card number over the phone or to an organization that only wants cash donations. If you see language stating that 100% of donations will go to the cause, that’s another red flag, because all organizations have operating expenses.

Another issue with assistance not getting where it needs to go is due to how humans respond to tragedy in general. We take a reactionary approach rather, which is much more expensive, rather than listening to experts and doing what’s necessary to prevent large scale disaster. In Texas, some towns heeded the warnings of climatologist and shored up their defenses against hurricanes, whereas others did not and suffered.


Tampa Foundation Review

Hurricane Relief

Health Insurance Innovations has already made some valuable contributions in times of hardship, and we’d like to this opportunity to review and share some of them. Health Insurance Innovations matched all employee donations made to charities providing relief for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  We collected several bags of clothing, towels, shoes, etc and we owe a special thank you to everyone who took time and resources out of their weekend to go through their closets and drawers.  This speaks clearly to the culture of caring and thoughtful people we employ at Health Insurance Innovations.

During the hurricanes of 2017, several of associates inquired if anything is being done by HIIQ to help those in Texas who have been affected by the catastrophic events. We quickly considered the appropriate actions from an organizational standpoint.  Understandably, we wanted to make sure that we go about that in the best way possible.  While the proper course of corporate action was being considered, the fine employees of Hiiquote stepped up and offered money out of their own pockets. Employees were empowered to donate to organizations of their own personal accord and the most popular recipients of employee aid:

There were and are worthy organizations that are doing great work in Texas to restore everything back the way it was and make it better.

In addition to money, we helped organize a local effort in Tampa to collect clothes for all ages and sizes. Baby clothing and larger adult clothing (XL, 2X, 3x, etc.) were in short supply and urgently needed, as were shoes, sheets, blankets, towels, toiletries, everything from soap, to shampoo and deodorant.

Corporate Wellness

Health Insurance Innovations cares deeply about the fine women and men who dedicate their days to our mission. To keep everyone happy and healthy, we formed a wellness team who created a weekly day of R and R called Tranquil Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, we provide different wellness activities such as:

  • Massage therapy
  • Yoga sessions
  • Walking in parks
  • Movies Fitness challenges
  • Health Awareness
  • Meditation
  • Stress Management

Health Awareness

In addition to our unconditional support for our community, we provide fun fitness activities for our employees with opportunities to win prizes for their participation. May 2018 was Women’s Health Month. Our wellness team devised a program that included

  • Step challenge
  • Passing out fitness items (everyone got one!)
  • Providing an instructor-led yoga class
  • Providing an instructor-led yoga class
  • Sending out digital handouts on women’s health

For June, it’s the men’s turn! We’re having them track their water in ounces for the week with fitness classes starting on Monday, June 11. Each day we’ll have a pushup challenge with some great prizes to the winner! Stay tuned for the results!

Pepin Academy is a great cause to support in Tampa

A Great Cause to Support in Tampa – Pepin Academies

Always on the lookout for a great cause to support in Tampa, for over a decade now, Health Insurance Innovations (HIIQ) has been a proud sponsor of Avila Charity Tennis Tournament. This year, HIIQ continues its streak as part of numerous charitable efforts planned for 2018.

This longstanding tennis tournament will return to the Avila Golf & Country Club April 13-15, 2018. Every year, all proceeds from attendees, players and sponsors alike are given in the form of donations to non profit organizations focused on children.

Now celebrating its 26th anniversary, the Avila Charity Tennis Tournament will benefit the Pepin Academies Foundation.

Since 1999, Pepin Academies have empowered students with learning and learning-related disabilities to flourish in stimulating, low-threat learning environments as they progress from third through 12th grade.

At the high school level, Pepin emulates the traditional public high school experience – offering classes in drama, music, art, physical education, chemistry, biology and more.

This allows students to meet their respective county’s graduation standards in a setting suited to their unique needs.

And it doesn’t stop after graduation.

Pepin helps students transition from the class to the workforce through their Pepin Transitional program, which gives 18 to 22-year-old graduates the knowledge they need to join the local workforce and eventually establish a lifelong career.

Today, Pepin serves more than 1,000 students attending their public charter schools in Tampa, New Port Richey, and Riverview.

Thanks to these tuition-free facilities, these students, and countless Pepin alumni continue to reach levels of academic and social success they might have never achieved in a traditional public school.

“We wouldn’t have a place for not only our students but our staff to consider a second home without donor support,” said Kelly Cassidy of Pepin Academies.

“We really rely on that and I thank everybody who supports our school because…without it, there would be a big void not only in my life but our students’ lives.”

There’s no shortage of worthy organizations to donate to and causes to support today. However, the Pepin Academies Foundation needs consistent donations – from events like the Avila Charity Tennis Tournament; companies like Health Insurance Innovations; and people like you.

Take it from current Pepin student, Roberto who says he has great and caring teachers but lacks the supplies he and his classmates need to succeed.

Whether you’re convinced the Pepin Academies Foundation is one of the best charities to donate to for children, considering new fundraising ideas, or simply looking to support students in need, click here to learn about all the ways you can give to the Pepin Academies Foundation.

Our Mission

HIIQ encourages all of its employees, customers and agency partners to give back to those in need. Whether you donate online to charity or spend a Saturday serving at the soup kitchen, giving back gives purpose and hope to all lives involved. Don’t know where to start? Check out Charity Navigator to find the most efficient charity organizations in your community today!


HIIQ Outperforms Fundraising Goals for Tommy’s Charity

Last August, a number of Health Insurance Innovations (Nasdaq HIIQ) executives lead by CEO Gavin Southwell cycled 80 miles from London in a fundraising effort for Tommy’s, a non-profit organization focused on research into stillbirths, premature births, and miscarriages.

With a fundraising goal of just over $7,000, Southwell and his wife Laura deemed this effort the London80. They rounded up a crew of 21 riders including HIIQ Founder Mike Kosloske; Vice President of Sales, Gerod Vernon; Senior Vice President Bryan Krul; Insurance Distributor, David Abraham; and President of Health Coverage Fast, Dan Jones.

The route would take them from a start at London’s famed Trafalgar Square, over the Thames River, and all the way out to the Surrey Hills – a route that closely matched the 2012 London Olympics road race course.
Shortly thereafter, the donations started pouring in. In addition to raising funds for Tommy’s, HIIQ and the Southwell’s were also supporting 4Louis, a charity that provides bereaved parents memory boxes free of charge who suffer a stillbirth or neonatal death.

Seven months and 80 miles later, HIIQ raised more than $31,000 for Tommy’s and $21,000 for 4Louis – surpassing its goals by 445% and 301% respectively.

You can read more at Tommys.org to understand why it’s such an honor to be recognized as a Standout Supporter.

And, if you’d still like to donate, you can! Click here to contribute to either of these important organizations as they work to ensure happy, healthy births for future parents around the world.