It’s the season of cheer. The season of festivities. The season of giving.
The holidays are a time when communities come together to support each other and celebrate the bonds that bring us together. It’s been a trying two years. We’ve had fantastic ups, and we’ve had deep, deep downs. Through it all, community banking institutions have been there to support their neighbors. We found it fitting to recognize just a few of the many examples of community involvement financial brands dare partaking in to spread cheer this holiday season. Giving can be done a number of ways, here are some examples your brand can emulate next year.
Covid-19 impacted every community across the nation and the world. Small businesses were particularly hard hit; but that didn’t mean that community financial institutions weren’t there to help. Our winner of the 2021 Community Spark Award, Dean Bank, initiated a remarkable program and provided a spark to the community when it needed it most.
As their communities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island neared the Holiday Season last year, Dean Bank was approached by the Town of Franklin to brainstorm ways to bolster the local small business economy. The idea they settled on was to create a closed-circuit gift card program, branded the “Think Franklin First” gift card.
Dean Bank underwrote the entire administration cost of the program (approximately $5,000 for the first year), served as the sole purchase location, supported the program through cross-promotion, and also purchased gift cards to use in the community.
Through the first six months of operation, 443 cards were purchased with a total value of $30,860. Every dollar spent on these gift cards went directly to one or more of the approximately 60 local small businesses in Franklin, MA. No national chain stores in town were asked to participate so the dollars stayed local.
United Bank of Iowa (UBI) kicked off a Community Cause Day program titled, UNITED TOGETHER Makes the Difference.
The goal of this joint effort of the employees and the bank allowed employees the opportunity to make a difference and support people in need in the communities UBI serves. On the second and fourth Friday of each month, UBI employees from all 35 locations were given the option to donate $5 to wear their UNITED TOGETHER Makes the Difference t-shirt with jeans to work.
The bank matched the employee donations up to $1,000 and the total was donated to one cause, randomly drawn from suggestions from all 35 UBI locations. To date, Cause Day has donated $33,775 to 15 different causes across UBI’s market area.
In addition to making donations to some worthwhile causes, United Bank of Iowa has had positive employee feedback and continues to make a difference for its employees. Employees have commented on how appreciative they are to work for a bank that matches their donations and supports their local communities so generously.
This effort has boosted morale as employees saw the results of how everyone doing a little can have a BIG impact.
CNB Bank hosted a community event: CNB Bank Financial Reality Fair. A financial reality fair is an interactive, fun event for students to experience a simulation of real-life choices related to spending, saving, and budgeting. In CNB Bank’s Financial Reality fair, students had the opportunity to challenge their understanding of needs and wants against their career choice and a realistic corresponding salary. Choices included: where to live, what kind of car to buy, if they are going to have a pet, if they are going to join a gym, and much more.
The purpose of the financial reality fair was to expose students to the financial decisions they will face as they graduate from high school or college and take that beyond the classroom as a realistic experience to budgeting and managing their money. Money management among young adults is virtually non-existent. CNB Bank had the opportunity in their extensive footprint and through existing community partnerships to make a real impact on these students for life.
The reality fair CNB Bank hosted took approximately 180-minutes, which included an introduction/kickoff, the activity itself (120 minutes – 12 tables @ 10 minutes each), and 15 minutes for financial education/debrief following the activity. In the pilot run, there were 60 participants, all seniors at the high school. CNB Bank had approximately 26 volunteers representing the bank, the community, and the school.
At the end of the event, the volunteers helped the students add up their expenses to compare how they did against their budgets. CNB Bank found that some students added things as they went along and started to make revisions when they realized that they could not support the life choices they made. Students dropped gym memberships and delayed pet ownership. During the debrief, CNB Bank volunteers had the opportunity to discuss ways to help meet budgets and provided feedback to students on the eye-opening experience.
The students and volunteers were given a post-survey to gauge the success of the event and measured the advancement of knowledge. The event was hugely successful and had a significant impact on the students and a positive impact on the community. It provided a base for additional conversations with the students in the classroom and some great community goodwill for CNB Bank’s volunteers and the organization.
These are but three examples of the many ways that financial brands have left their mark on their communities. During this Season of Giving, we are proud to recognize and appreciate them for their efforts! Do you have another example of a financial brand making a remarkable difference? Send us a note now!