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The Canopy Group

More Than an Insurance Broker

Something came up again and again when I spoke with Managing Partner Paul Borchert and Marketing Communication Manager Cara McCann of The Canopy Group: leveraging the company’s success for the community.  When talking about their partnership with food shelves, running phone banks, or even lending out their ‘jumbotron’ to local restaurants, the conversation kept circling back to using the Canopy Group’s success for the betterment of its community. “Because of our production and growth, we are not only able to use our Canopy Group dollars but also the insurance company dollars and leverage that to more local causes,” says Borchert.  And that’s exactly what The Canopy Group does.  

The Canopy Group is an insurance Broker founded in 1930 in Le Sueur, Minnesota.  Since then, the company has opened offices in Minnetonka, Roseville, Edina, and Woodbury, “We needed a more metro location,” says Borchert.  The Canopy Group is unique for a couple of reasons.  First, because they partner with 16 different insurance companies which allows them “to get people the best coverage at the best price year-in and year-out,” says Borchert.  And second, because of how the Canopy Group markets itself.  “We are not only on television, but we are on the radio, we are on podcasts, we are on social media. [...] There are a number of different mediums that we use in order to attract people to us,” McCann adds.  Through that marketing, the Canopy Group has developed strong ties across the metro with local radio and news stations like KS95, WCCO, and Twin Cities Live.  It was always a goal to “get Minnesota roots and people that believed in our message,” says Borchert.  Those relationships quickly transformed from marketing to philanthropy.

Since 2015 The Canopy Group has sponsored WCCO’s Radiothon to raise money for Union Gospel Mission, a non-profit that serves people in the Twin Cities area facing homelessness, poverty, and addiction. During the Radiothon, money raised goes to ending hunger in the Twin Cities.  Borchert says The Canopy Group’s involvement in the Radiothon “grew from a relationship with WCCO.”  Not only does The Canopy Group match incoming donations during the Radiothon, but its employees donate their time to answer phones throughout the event.  “It’s a really good cause and it’s really our favorite,” says Borchert. 

Another organization partnered with The Canopy Group is the ICA Food Shelf.  The ICA Food Shelf has been distributing food and clothing in the Minnetonka area since 1971. Besides financial support, The Canopy group runs ads for the ICA Food Shelf as well as digitally marketing for the food shelf.  Borchert says that he and his wife have been involved with the food shelf for many years and therefore “it was a natural progression for us to support it, not only financially but we gave a lot of time to them.”  After the ICA Food Shelf’s 2020 “Great Taste” event went virtual due to COVID-19, The Canopy Group helped promote the event with an email campaign and mailing list. “We simply wanted to share our marketing channels with them in order to broaden the spotlight on this important annual fundraiser,” says McCann.  

During the height of the pandemic, The Canopy Group did something new to support their community. “We bought a travel trailer that is a television, 11 feet wide by 7 feet tall,” says Borchert.  Since then, the travel trailer dubbed ‘the jumbotron’ has been used to promote dozens of local businesses and events like the Wayzata Art Experience, baseball associations, and even homecomings.  “COVID was really the inspiration to get it,” says Borchert, but the underlying idea was “what more uniquely can we do to serve these places.”

Maynard’s in Excelsior took full advantage of the jumbotron for big events like the Superbowl and Frozen Four.   The Canopy Group would play these events on the Jumbotron outside "so that people could go to a gathering space, still follow all the rules of the law, but yet be in an outdoor, air-open area and still enjoy the comradery of social distancing,” says McCann.  And the jumbotron shows no sign of slowing down: “It’s got its own schedule and it is making the rounds,” says Borchert.  

Another aspect of The Canopy Group’s philanthropy comes in the form of sponsoring local sports teams.  The Canopy Group provides funds for equipment and uniforms for several local baseball, golf, and basketball teams, as well as providing silent auction items and gym space for the teams.  Both Borchert and his wife were involved in coaching and scheduling for local teams.  From there, providing support was natural because they “knew the need because we were involved with them.”

Through discussing The Canopy Group’s philanthropy, what is striking is how close to home so many of these causes are.  Each partnership seems to stem from personal connections to individual weathermen, specific radio hosts, coaches of local sports teams, or the needs of a favorite restaurant.  These aren’t ambiguous issues, but specifics within a community.  Through it all “it’s about the work they do,” says McCann, adding “these are all wonderful causes, The Canopy Group stands behind all of them.”  For Borchert, The Canopy Group’s philanthropy isn’t an afterthought. “We are very conscious and very proud of the fact that we have the ability to do this, and we look to do it for many years to come.”  So whether it’s an ad in the outfield of Bennett Park or a matched donation to a food bank, The Canopy Group will be deeply involved in its community for years to come.