Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

The Headache: How Are You Handling Charitable Contributions?

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

The Headache: How Are You Handling Charitable Contributions?

Article excerpt

Banks are far from Scrooges, but there's only so much to go around--sometimes less. How has your bank addressed this ticklish challenge during the downturn? Read extended versions of these answers and add your own thoughts at http://tinyurl.com/bankcharity

Remedy 1: Don't change a thing

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Nick Pfeiffer, marketing officer, MidWestOne Bank, $1.63 billion-assets, Iowa City, Iowa.

Money is tighter. The need is greater. So how did MidWestOne adapt its charitable giving during the downturn in the economy? By not changing anything about our processes--and giving even more.

Our customer service surveys tell us that we are known for being generous and supportive of the community. We've built that reputation in our 77 years of existence. We're not going to let a few down years change who we are.

MidWestOne's philosophy is to give to projects that will do the most good and benefit the most people. We work to establish relationships to foster the greatest amount of recognition and opportunity for employees to contribute.

Our bank operates within 19 markets. Each maintains its own charitable budget and decision making. There also is a corporate budget for larger commitments and those that affect multiple markets. Additionally, the bank established a foundation that supports long-range capital projects.

In 2012, we will introduce the MidWestOne Bank Community Impact Grant. We will invite each of our branches to apply and compete for a one-time, $50,000 gift to a project in their community.

Remedy 2: Balance bucks and boots

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Laurie Stewart, president and CEO, Sound Community Bank, $339.5 million-assets, Seattle, Wash.

Supporting the communities where we do business, and improving the quality of life in those communities, is a core value for the bank and our community foundation. During these challenging times, we have managed to maintain a contributions budget that is a fair share of our earnings. We leverage that budget with employee volunteer hours. Both the bank and foundation focus giving on organizations where our employees participate. And when we support an event, we do it with dollars and personnel.

For example, at a "Light the Night" event, we sponsored a water stop. A dozen volunteers and our mascot, Sounder the Whale, staffed the table and greeted all the walkers. …

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