Community involvement is a major focus for financial institutions and banking professionals.

How Banks Are Supporting Communities in Times of Need

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Money is any financial institutions' focus, from helping customers make the most of theirs to providing access to loans or cash via ATMs, ITMs and more. But banking professionals are not entirely money-minded; they're also providing support for the communities they serve. They aren't just saying it, either. They're backing it up — putting their money where their mouth is.

From managing the COVID-19 crisis to the climate crisis, financial institutions throughout the country are going the extra mile to make their customers' lives just a little bit easier during these challenging times. The families, stakeholders and community leaders on the receiving end of these services have taken notice.

Hurricane Ida relief
A classic recent example is Regions Bank. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida — a highly destructive Category 4 storm that struck several states along the Gulf Coast — the Alabama-based bank holding company put together a suite of financial services specifically designed to help families and businesses affected by Ida and cope with the aftermath. As reported by local ABC News affiliate KATC, this included $250,000 in grant funding for disaster relief, a minimum two-week moratorium on ATM fees — allowing customers to use other banks' terminals — as well as payment deferrals for certain credit card holders and business owners. Additionally, Regions Bank also said it would allow customers who have CDs with the bank to make one-time withdrawals from them without incurring a penalty.

Regions Foundation executive director Marta Self noted that all of these efforts are aimed at helping a community torn apart by Ida come together.

"Nonprofits and relief organizations are doing incredible work addressing urgent needs, and through these grants, our focus at the Regions Foundation is to provide resources that will support their real-time response to the storm," Self said, as reported by KABC.

When Hurricane Ida bore down, banks stepped up. When Hurricane Ida bore down, banks stepped up.

Regions Bank is hardly the only financial institution that lent a hand post-Ida. Credit Union of Birmingham, Members Credit Union of Winston Salem, Fort McClellan Credit Union of Anniston and Lion's Share Federal Credit Union of Salisbury pooled their resources in order to provide gift cards to families affected by Ida, reported the Credit Union Times. More than 2,500 $100 gift cards were distributed. The credit unions teamed up with the United Way of Southeast Louisiana (UWSELA) to assist with coordination.

Michael Williamson, president and CEO of UWSELA, said they were "beyond thankful" for the credit unions' generosity, as were the pleasantly surprised gift card recipients.

ABA awards banks that are committed to communities
As banking professionals can attest, the fact that FIs give back to the community is nothing novel. For several years now, the American Bankers Association has been recognizing those financial institutions that are committed to their communities through the Community Commitment Award program. Each year, they're given to FIs that assist with issues like affordable housing, economic development, financial education and improving the financial security of older Americans, among other categories.

But with the country — as well as much of the world — experiencing more collective challenges of late, adversities have allowed more banks to step up to the plate. This was especially evident in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the findings of a study that was presented at the American Economic Association's annual meeting, U.S. banks pledged billions of dollars to communities affected by COVID-19, MarketWatch reported. Just between Bank of America and Wells Fargo alone, two of the world's largest banks pledged some $275 million to housing stability, food insecurity and shelter.

Janis Bowdler, president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, said in an emailed statement that it isn't just banks that need to show their support amid hardships, but businesses as a whole. Giving back helps to improve businesses' credibility and reputation

Vast majority of banking customers rank their banks highly
And for banks, their reputation is already in solid shape. As a poll from the American Bankers Association found, 97% of Americans with bank accounts believe that banks' customer service, in general, is superior and approximately 90% being either "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with their primary bank.

When banks do what's right, they can't go wrong. This is something that we've always believed in at BranchServ, and now that we've partnered with Convergint, it will allow us to do even more for local communities in the days, months and years ahead.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that will detail the ways in which Convergint has given back since its founding and how BranchServ Convergint intends to make a daily difference in the lives of our customers and colleagues moving forward.