March 8, 2019
CalNonprofits Insurance Services is proud to be celebrating our 35th anniversary this year. We have grown from 1 to 42 employees (one of which has been here for 24 years!), and in addition to our headquarters in Capitola, we also have offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Over 1,200 nonprofits rely on CalNonprofits Insurance Services to protect their employees and their missions. It’s more than insurance…it’s a commitment to serving nonprofits of all sizes in California. We are unique in the insurance marketplace, we are the only social enterprise insurance brokerage in California. Our profits go back into the nonprofit sector via our parent nonprofit – CalNonprofits, the California State Association of Nonprofits!
Let’s take a walk down memory lane…
Understanding that California nonprofits needed a voice and advocate, the California Association of Nonprofits (CalNonprofits) was founded in 1984, by Bob Kardon, Gary Richwald, and Meredeth Clark. Back in those days, health insurance carriers could decline or cancel employers’ health insurance policies without cause. The first members joining the organization made it clear that the most crucial membership benefit the association could provide would be access to employee group health insurance. Thus, CAN Insurance Services (our original name) was born! As a subsidiary of CalNonprofits, our missions were aligned. Our staff was so small, that we only needed to “borrow” a desk at a local nonprofit (Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center, now known as Encompass Community Services).
The first product launched was a self-insured dental/vision trust and a fully-insured PPO group health plan. Today, the Nonprofit Benefits Trust is fully insured and is still one our most popular exclusive benefits programs.
By the end of 1985, we hired our first full-time employee and partnered with about 20 nonprofits for employee benefit plans. Our first office space was leased in Santa Cruz.
By 1990, we had grown to 4 full-time staff and continued sharing administrative staff with CalNonprofits. We had about 75 nonprofits accessing their employee benefit plans through our exclusive programs.
Around 2003, CalNonprofits relocated to Los Angeles and CAN Insurance Services moved to a new location in Capitola. We had grown to 12 staff members and 125 nonprofit clients. We were one of the only brokers that understood the unique needs of nonprofits.
After having great success in the employee benefits sector, we branched out into commercial insurance coverages. We were able to offer a complete suite of insurance products to nonprofits including Property, Liability, Professional, Directors & Officers, and Workers’ Compensation Insurance. We also added a couple of satellite offices in Southern California (Diamond Bar and Burbank).
A few years later, we moved to our current home office location in Capitola, as we had outgrown our previous space.
In 2013, it was goodbye CAN Insurance Services, hello CalNonprofits Insurance Services! We changed our name to better show the connection to our parent organization, CalNonprofits. By this time, we had partnerships with more than 800 nonprofits throughout California!
In 2016, our original founder, Meredeth Clark, retired after 32 years of serving the members of CalNonprofits. Colleen Lazanich took over as CEO and has led the organization through numerous changes to enhance the client experience, expand exclusive member offerings and grow the organization. In late 2018, we acquired a large nonprofit book of business and added Cole Kinney to our management team.
Over the past 35 years, we have seen a lot of changes. Insurance carriers and other “niche” insurance agencies have come and gone. Paper files and file cabinets have been replaced with the cloud. Legislation and government continue to change the insurance marketplace. Our employees have presented dozens of educational seminars. We have created hundreds of resources for our clients. We have written and renewed tens of thousands of polices. We have answered a gazillion questions and helped our valued customers solve thousands of insurance related problems, issues and challenges. And through it all, we have had too-many-to-count moments of joy in supporting the nonprofit sector. We are here for you! It’s more than insurance…it’s a community!
Happy Anniversary, CalNonprofits Insurance Services and a giant Thank You to all our beloved nonprofits – we could not have done it without you!