More Corporations Need to Make the Commitment to Community

20th Anniversary of Skate with the Greats is Prime Example of How Corporate Giving is Key to Keeping Not-for-Profits Operating for Years to Come
Feb 24, 2014 2:00 PM ET

In January, a New York tradition celebrated its 20th Anniversary.  Retired New York Ranger players – many living legends - hit the ice at Rockefeller Center and made dreams come true for lots of kids and kids at heart. More importantly, the event raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Ronald McDonald House® New York to support its efforts providing a temporary “home-away-from-home” for pediatric cancer patients and their families. The House, the largest facility of its type in the world, is a supportive and caring environment which encourages and nurtures the development of child-to-child and parent-to-parent support systems. And Skate with the Greats has raised more than $9 million on behalf of Ronald McDonald House® New York since it began 20 years ago.

Fundraising events like Skate with the Greats wouldn’t exist without corporate resources, and more specifically, paid sponsorships that fund the events that make raising the millions of dollars possible. In fact, Ronald McDonald House® New York and many other charities receive no government funding. It exists solely because of the support from the private sector.

And there literally would not have been a 20th Anniversary celebration for Skate with the Greats this year, or any “Skate with the Greats” fundraiser at all, if Zurich Insurance hadn’t understood the importance of corporate support for not-for-profit organizations back in 2009 when Ronald McDonald House® New York found itself without a major sponsor for the event that year and faced the grave reality that the “show” would not go on.

This was during the height of the financial crisis and the year that many corporations were circling their wagons in an attempt to protect themselves and recover from the crisis.  And, it was that year that approximately two thirds of Skate with the Greats corporate sponsors pulled out thus threatening the event’s livelihood.

That year, Zurich – already a long term donor to the event – raised its support by 200 percent at the request of Ronald McDonald House® New York CEO William Sullivan in order to keep this annual event going and ensure continued fundraising for Ronald McDonald House® New York and the families that live in the House during treatment. 

That year, even as the world's financial bedrock was shaken, Zurich’s commitment lead the way for other corporations  to connect with the event and put it back on a growth trajectory to where it is today.

And that is why legendary players like Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu, Rod Gilbert, Adam Graves, Ron Greschner , Brian Leetch, Stéphane Matteau,  Brian Mullen, Mike Richter, Pete Stemkowski  and Gilles Villemure were on the ice last month and able to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the event.  

At Zurich, truly caring about people through active engagement and supporting the development of strong communities is important to our heritage, to our more than 100 year history of insuring America and to who we are as a company today.

By connecting nonprofits to resources, we help make communities stronger. This has historically been the mantra of corporations around the world but giving took a huge hit after 2008.  

According to a Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) survey, in 2009 a majority of companies (60%) experienced a decrease in corporate giving levels from 2008.  The good news is that while global economic uncertainty persists today, more recent data tells us that corporate giving is on the rebound.

The impact of corporate responsibility is profound and the insurance industry is one of the most generous. Now, more than ever, our communities need the skills and resources we have to offer and the financial structures of the not-for-profits that support them are often fragile. I encourage companies to recognize the importance of their corporate responsibility and continue this resurgence in corporate giving. Doing so is key to keeping not-for-profits and beloved fundraising traditions such as “Skate with the Greats,” operating for years to come.


Randall Clouser
-Board of Directors, Ronald McDonald House® New York
-Executive Vice President, Zurich Insurance