PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. –
Personnel within one of the most important dealership departments still need help as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Organizers of the F&I Providers Relief Fund for F&I managers have raised more than $500,000 in only about a month — half of its $1 million fundraising goal — but the board is still looking for donors to meet the overwhelming need for financial assistance grants to F&I managers.
Only about three weeks after announcing a seven-member board of directors and $1 million fundraising goal, the F&I Providers Relief Fund for F&I managers has raised $507,220 as of Tuesday from more than 40 F&I providers and industry leaders.
According to a news release, $444,500 has been awarded in financial assistance grants to F&I managers.
Despite the success in fundraising so far, fund officials said grant requests keep pouring in, and the board is looking to raise more funds to keep up with demand.
Nearly 600 grant requests have been submitted since the charity launched in late April, and the board reviews requests daily to keep the award process moving quickly. Feedback from those not only receiving grants, but simply requesting has been gracious to say the least, according to fund officials.
Some examples of comments for grant applicants include:
“Words cannot begin to express my gratitude for this grant. This grant will help me to continue to feed and take care of my family. I just can’t believe it’s true. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“I can’t tell you enough how appreciative I am for your kindness as a group. We deal with money and sometimes large amounts, but what your organization has granted will definitely help during these difficult times.”
“Thank you for considering me for the grant to help out in this tough time we are living in. Thanks for what you all are doing … means a lot!!”
National Auto Care chief executive officer and F&I Providers Relief Fund founder Tony Wanderon offered this reaction to the success of the entire initiative so far.
“We are ecstatic over the generosity of our donors so far, and we have made such an impact on F&I managers and their families who have dealt with pay cuts or job loss during this difficult time,” Wanderon said in a news release.
“But we continue to see an overwhelming need for aid from these industry professionals. As of now, we have disabled the grant application portal on our website and have shifted our focus to processing existing grant requests and re-launching our fundraising campaign to make it to our $1 million goal,” he continued.
Though the Relief Fund board was committed to fundraising only within the F&I providers community, the group is considering opening fundraising to agents and other professionals simply to keep up with demand.
“Our applicants have faced serious hardships due to the financial impact of COVID-19. Their stories are heartbreaking, and the professionals who have been awarded grants are so grateful to be able to keep up with bills and keep food on the table for their families,” said Kelly Price, chief executive officer of NAE/NWAN.
Price’s existing 501(c)3 charity — Changing Lives Foundation — has handled the administration of the F&I Providers Relief Fund, ensuring grant applicants can receive funds tax-free.
“In order to continue the good work that we have already done, we have to continue fundraising,” Price said.
Along with Wanderon and Price, the F&I Providers Relief Fund board of directors also includes:
— StoneEagle CEO Cindy Allen
— VAS president Bill Breindel
— Assurant senior vice president Daniel Lenczner
— EasyCare/GWC Warranty president John Lee
— Houlihan Lokey managing director Craig Tessimond.
F&I providers can visit the site to contribute to the fund and view a list of the companies that have contributed at www.changinglivesfound.org/fandiprovidersrelieffund.