Banking Mid Atlantic (Sept/Oct) 2019

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Is Your Charitable Giving Also Effective Marketing? How Giving Can Grow Your Bank By STEVEN K. GOLD, Special to Banking Mid Atlantic


hen our community thrives, our bank thrives,” states Tara Brewster, vice president of business development at Greenfield Savings Bank (Greenfield, MA). Indeed, strong communities equate with community bank success. Thriving communities are created in several ways, including effective local government, good schools, quality employers, and nonprofit organizations that support a community’s needs – especially those needs that are not being met by government or the for-profit sector. Local nonprofits play a crucial role in the health and economic wellbeing of a community. Community banks are some of the biggest benefactors of local nonprofits. Even outside of CRA requirements, community banks are generous. Many give hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, to more than a million dollars a year, to support nonprofits in communities they serve. This makes perfect business sense since, as Brewster points out, thriving communities create conditions of wealth and stability that reinforce bank success. WHAT MORE CAN BE DONE? What if banks could do even more to support local nonprofits that help our communities to thrive? How could banks be motivated to do this? Is there some underutilized asset held by local nonprofits that can be ‘unlocked’ to

transform nonprofits into valued partners rather than just recipients? It turns out that there is. Nonprofits have something that all organizations need in order to succeed in the long run: deep emotional connections with their supporters. Similar to their favorite sports teams, people are passionate about the causes they care about. Unfortunately, despite the best intentions of bank leadership teams, the vast majority of banks and other businesses do not inspire the same emotional connections as the local animal shelter or the Boston Red Sox. Better interest rates and friendly service simply cannot compete. According to Jim Briand, founder of NexTier Partners and past president of the New England Financial Marketing Association, “One of the key ways that community banks can compete and differentiate themselves is by making their community support dollars work harder. If a community bank competes on technology or rates alone, they are competing on the terms of big banks.” COMPETING DIMENSIONS Banks compete along dimensions such as service, convenience, technology and rates. Nonprofits are different. They are borne out of a deep human need. They touch our hearts and minds in ways that banks and other businesses cannot. If you or a loved one has experienced the effects of cancer, then you will be drawn to those organizations that



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