Find Out What Your Bank Does With Your Money
Most people have a basic understanding of how checking and savings accounts work. Individuals deposit their funds into an account, and when they wish to withdraw those funds, they’re readily available. What many people don’t realize, however, is that those dollars and cents aren’t kept locked in a vault; they’re constantly on the move, being used to make loans to and investments in businesses and other clients to the tune of an estimated a total of $9.5 trillion annually in the United States. This begs the question: What if your bank is loaning money to businesses or organizations that have practices that do not align with your values?
We have the power to vote with our investment dollars by banking with purpose-driven financial institutions. Certified B Corporation banks like Amalgamated Bank are becoming a more widely available option.
“We’re always reminding people that banks aren’t just keeping their money locked away in a vault,” says Amalgamated Bank President and CEO Keith Mestrich. “The dollars being deposited are constantly on the move, making it difficult to know what exactly what your money is funding. When you bank with Amalgamated, you can rest assured that your money is going toward the socially responsible causes you care about.”
Amalgamated Bank was founded in 1923 with a clear objective in mind: to bring banking access, which was once reserved for corporations and wealthy individuals, to hardworking men, women and their families. Since then, Amalgamated has continued to build social responsibility into its business model, amassing nearly $5 billion in assets and growing to serve customers and clients sharing its purpose-driven mission.
Following a merger late last year with New Resource Bank, based in San Francisco, Amalgamated expanded its geographical reach beyond branches in New York and Washington, D.C., to California as it endeavors to build its nationwide presence and become “America’s socially responsible bank.” The bank now has strong footholds in four “changemaker” communities — New York City, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boulder, Colorado — and has plans to expand to other locations across the country.
Thanks to the merger, the B Corp bank will boost its impact investing with socially responsible companies: Amalgamated plans to double assets in four core areas — environmental protection, health and wellness, education and community empowerment and sustainable commerce — from $350 million to $700 million by 2020.
That means more lending for programs that provide clean energy and improved air and water quality; companies that market organic foods and sustainable fashions; nonprofits that advance education and community empowerment; and other businesses like B Corps that prioritize sustainability in their strategic plans and operations.
Banking for the Environment
Reflecting its 100 percent commitment to renewable energy and net-zero carbon operations, Amalgamated serves sustainable organizations such as Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth; philanthropic and social justice organizations like Biden Foundation and Nathan Cummings Foundation; and other groups including the American Federation of Teachers and American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees.
To reinforce its environmental focus, Amalgamated this fall committed to measure its financed emissions — the greenhouse gas emissions of companies or organizations within its funds — ultimately to align them with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. To do this it is leading a group of North American lending institutions to develop an open and transparent accounting system for measuring the climate impact of their lending, similar to a program developed by European banks in the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, of which Amalgamated is a member.
Leading by example as a B Corp that values sustainable business practices and lending by example to organizations with social impact, Amalgamated votes through forward-thinking financing that aspires to increase the greater good.
“We might only fill out a ballot every couple of years, but who we do business with on a daily basis is a form of civic engagement in and of itself,” Mestrich says. “When you bank with Amalgamated, you’re essentially voting for the great causes we support. In that way, every day is election day.”
This article is presented by Amalgamated Bank, who was a sponsor of this year’s B Corp Champions Retreat. Amalgamated Bank’s mission is to be the financial institution for progressive people and organizations: those who are working and living to make the world more just, more compassionate, and more sustainable.