2023 US Insurance Awards: Axis, Community Outreach Project of the Year (Pro Bono and Volunteer)

When the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person volunteering difficult, Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. found a creative way to boost funding for an organization that provides health, educational and other services to people in extreme poverty.

Over several months, Axis developed the Bridging Worlds Challenge, an interactive, quiz-like virtual experience that gives potential donors, volunteers and existing corporate partners of Adara Group a deeper understanding of the work that the Sydney-based organization is doing to help the needy around the world.

The project created a way of “giving back virtually” at a time when in-person volunteering was difficult or impossible, said Noreen McMullan, New York-based chief people officer at Axis.

As the pandemic has waned, the Bridging Worlds Challenge continues to generate benefits for Adara.

The group has held events featuring the challenge in several countries, attracting significant donations that have helped fund meals for schoolchildren, trained health workers in newborn care, sponsored midwives, provided school supplies and more in poor communities.

“Over the course of an hour, they develop a deeper understanding of the everyday lives of Adara’s communities,” Ms. McMullan said of the interactive challenge. “And they get a sense of the work being done and the immense impact a donation can make.”

Developing the project was not without its own challenges for Axis employees in time zones far from Australia. Much of their work was done during evenings to account for the time difference between their offices and Adara’s location, she said.

Axis put the project together at no cost to Adara, Ms. McMullan said. 

“Most of it was done with the talent we have in-house,” she said. “Most of us had never done anything like this before, so it was a challenge. But people really enjoyed building something unfamiliar from scratch.”

The Bridging Worlds Challenge has been so successful that it has led to a spinoff, Ms. McMullan said. 

The company’s parents and caregivers resource group has partnered with Adara to create a kids and family version of the challenge, which was designed to introduce that audience to the “important work of the philanthropic partnerships,” she said.

The newest version of the challenge debuted recently, Ms. McMullan said. “The culture of volunteering and giving back at Axis goes out to the families and children who see what we do,” she said.


• American International Group Inc. — The insurer provides support, and legal and regulatory guidance to Reporters Shield, an organization protecting investigative journalism. 

• Higginbotham — The brokerage’s Higginbotham Helps initiative supported restaurants struggling through the pandemic, a program it expanded to include other volunteer initiatives. 

• Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. — The insurer’s Corporate Strategy and Research Group worked on a volunteer engagement with HopeWell, a greater Boston-based nonprofit. 

• Zurich North America — In-house lawyers in the insurer’s legal services department volunteer to advise people with limited means on immigration, criminal records relief and other matters. 



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