FLORIDA – Founded only two weeks ago by National Auto Care CEO Tony Wanderon, the F&I Providers Relief Fund (F&IPRF) has brought nearly 20 F&I providers together and has now raised close to $300,000 to provide financial grants exclusively to F&I managers who are dealing with financial hardships due to COVID-19.
While we are all focused on our companies, I feel that as a group we could make a difference for many F&I families.
And that’s just the start; the Relief Fund has partnered with Changing Lives Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, to administer and help support this effort. This allows F&IPRF donors to categorize their donation as a charitable contribution, and, just as important, it allows F&IPRF to grant monies on a tax-deductible basis, thus making an even greater impact.
F&IPRF also named five members and two alternates to its board of directors to assist in reviewing applications and awarding financial assistance grants. This esteemed group of industry leaders includes:
National Auto Care CEO Tony Wanderon, NAE/NWAN CEO Kelly Price, StoneEagle CEO Cindy Allen, VAS President Bill Breindel, Assurant Senior Vice President Daniel Lenczner, EasyCare/GWC Warranty President John Lee and Houlihan Lokey Managing Director Craig Tessimond.
During its first meeting April 21, the board announced a fundraising goal of $1 million. To accomplish this, each board member will reach out to their own network of colleagues to add to the impressive list of companies that have signed on to help those F&I managers in need.
“I thought of the dramatic impact this is not only having on providers, but the dealers and their F&I employees who have supported our companies and our livelihood for years. They all are facing serious challenges and having to enact layoffs, furloughs or make deep cuts in pay for the F&I managers nationwide,” said Wanderon in an initial email to a group of fellow company leaders in the industry.
“While we are all focused on our companies, I feel that as a group we could make a difference for many F&I families.”
From that first email, responses started pouring in. Having personally donated $10,000 with a matching contribution from his company, National Auto Care, Wanderon heard back from nearly every company he contacted and raised more than $200,000 in the first couple days alone.
One of the companies that immediately responded to Wanderon was NAE/NWAN, and its CEO Kelly Price, now a F&IPRF board member, offered to administer the Relief Fund under the umbrella of her charity, Changing Lives Foundation.
Price says charitable works are close to her heart and that she was excited to partner with Wanderon on this effort – the first of its kind in catering specifically to F&I managers.
Thanks to Price and Changing Lives Foundation, the Relief Fund quickly established a website where other industry providers can contribute, helping them reach the $1 million goal. The site is alo accepting grant applications from F&I managers.
Applications will be reviewed by objective staff members from Changing Lives Foundation before they are submitted for board review. Wanderon and the other board members are committed to protecting the anonymity of the applicants, and that includes concealing details on their dealership or geographic details to prevent any conflicts.
“We don’t want anyone to be faced with bias if an applicant is the F&I manager in one of the dealerships where they do business. We will make the decisions completely free of bias and based truly on need,” says Wanderon.
The board will award grants up to $2,000 and hopes that as more providers and other leading companies throughout the F&I industry join in the fundraising efforts, F&IPRF will be able to help as many F&I managers, and their families, as possible.
F&I managers can visit the site to view qualification criteria and apply for grants. F&I providers can visit the site to contribute to F&IPRF and view a list of the companies that have contributed to the fund so far: https://www.changinglivesfound.org/fandiprovidersrelieffund.