Community banking might be about business first and foremost, but it’s the opportunity to make a difference that attracts and retains the industry’s best and brightest, according to a recent Independent Banker article.
“If you look at membership in any community civic organization, chances are you will find at least one community banker involved in that organization, giving his or her time, and an employer encouraging that involvement,” explains Tim Treml, president and CEO of Bank of Luxemburg, Wis.
The $308-million asset bank sponsors Bank of Luxemburg Care Days, in which each employee is given eight hours of paid time to volunteer annually for something in the community. The bank also provides an after-hours meeting space for local civic organizations.
“When I go home at the end of the day and reflect on what we have accomplished, it gives me a good feeling,” Treml says.
Treml’s account is just one of many demonstrating how community bankers contribute in big and small ways to the overall health of their communities, not only by funding the dreams of their customers, but also through their charitable endeavors, many of which are performed with little or no fanfare.
For the Greater Good
Spreading the word about their philanthropic endeavors—monetary or otherwise—is more than about generating good press, however. It’s a chance to educate the public at large about the vital role community banks play in helping local neighborhoods thrive when the deposits and loans of their citizens are redistributed back into the community.
The question becomes: How can community banks tell their story in a way that authentically sets them apart? Here are a few tips to get started:
Partner with Charities and Organizations for Joint Messages--When community banks partner with the charities and organizations they give their time and money to, the messaging becomes stronger and less promotional. Inviting a charity representative to guest blog or sync up for a live video session gives partner organizations an additional channel to spread the word about their cause, while highlighting the community bank’s participation and support.
Rally the Troops—It’s no secret that community bank employees love making a difference in their neighborhoods, schools and local charities. By encouraging employees to share their pictures and what specific events and opportunities mean to them, community banks can give customers—existing and potential—a glimpse of the bank’s culture and its driving principles.
Community Spirit Bank spotlighted the personal stories its employees have with a simple social media campaign in which employees shared why they love being community bankers. Social media participation can be even easier with pre-written tweets to share with employees that can be copied and pasted.
Make Volunteer and Donation Data More Interesting—Those pictures featuring bank employees holding a check are important, but volunteer hours can be just as impressive. Gate City Bank crunched their 2016 numbers, presenting an awe-inspiring amount of time given to their area: more than 12,700 hours!
Want more ideas to help promote economic development and bolster your bank’s brand? Consider the following:
- Partner with your bank’s customers to form a professional network or program to present educational content targeting startups.
- Create a buzz about your bank and support a good cause by sponsoring a community-related activity or hosting an event.
- Encourage your community to shop, dine and bank locally by bringing small-business owners and consumers together in a central location. Whether organizing a large-scale event or a small mixer, show the importance of frequenting local businesses by giving locals easy access to them.
- Start a conversation to help educate consumers and small-business owners about how to improve their money-management skills. Check out ICBA’s website for a list of available financial literacy resources to help you get started.
As Community Banking Month comes to a close, we have the rest of 2017 to come together and share what makes community banks such a vital part of our local economies as well as our local identities.
To continue the conversation about all of the creative ways community banks can differentiate their brands, watch our recent community banking marketing webinar in partnership with Social Assurance.