Community banks lend, invest and donate locally. It’s a philosophy that guides their interactions with their customers and allows them to look beyond the balance sheet to how each loan benefits their entire community. It’s the community bank difference.
“As a kid I was taught, ‘leave everything a little better than how you found it.’ Growing up I realized that this is more than a just a campsite rule,” said Benjamin Nelson, senior vice president of residential mortgage lending at D. L Evans Bank in Burley, Idaho, recently told Independent Banker. “As a community bank we are involved with our customers and our community. Our knowledge and concern for them allows us to make both our customers and our community better.”
D.L. Evans Bank is hardly alone in its effort to uplift its community. Thousands of community bankers across the nation donate their time and financial support to help their neighborhoods thrive.
“Every April we emphasize Community Banking Month to try to tell our story about why we support local business,” Greg Raymo, president and CEO of First State Bank Southwest in Worthington, Minn., told the Daily Globe.
This year the community bank will surprise four small businesses with a “cash mob” to help encourage local commerce. “Local businesses are the key to the success of the bank, and they’re the catalyst to making the community successful,” said Raymo.
The bank also supports several local entities through the First State Bank Southwest Charitable Program. “Investing our profits back into the community … helps make continued growth possible,” said Raymo.
Home Bank President and CEO Dan Moore wants to tackle serious issues affecting his community in Central Indiana.
“Last Christmas we gave all of our employees $200 each and said, ‘we want you to go out to the community and find a worthwhile cause,’” Moore said. After reviewing the results he realized the effort was like “putting a Band-Aid on the problem.” A more effective long-term solution was needed, he said, leading to the creation of “Bridges out of Poverty.” “Community leaders have rallied behind the program, which Moore believes will change [generational poverty] in our community in the next five, 10, 20 years.”
The bank also donates 10 percent of its earnings to non-profits through its “community bank dividend” program. Initiated in 2014, the program is directed by a committee of employees representing all departments across the organization.
“Beyond the organizations that we support, the impact of our gifting has also been felt within our organization, further strengthening our culture which is based upon the tenets of servant leadership,” said Lisa Arnold, senior vice president and chief operations officer at the Martinsville, Ind.-based bank.
Time Matters to Communities
Lending resources to important causes in the community is powerful. But equally important is donating time and energy.
In 2016 alone, Gate City Bank volunteered more than 12,700 hours (approximately 22 hours per employee).
“We want to give back to the community,” Gate City Bank Senior Personal Loan Officer and Assistant Vice President Christa Schwartzenberger told Bismark-Mandan Chamber Connection. “It’s not just giving back financially; it’s giving back our time.”
With so many impactful community initiatives taking off across the nation, it’s important that community bankers share their stories. Not only does it highlight the important role community banks serve in their neighborhoods and local economies, it can inspire other community leaders to pitch in and make a difference.
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