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Vote Every Day With Your Financial Institution

(Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash)

This article was created in partnership with Amalgamated Bank.

The direct impact of banking with a financial institution that is committed to investing in and lending to organizations that share your values is pretty clear. By choosing to work with a bank that builds a better world through the organizations it supports, your deposits serve as an everyday vote for the type of world you want to see.

Those votes often have unseen ripple effects — meaning the direct impact of your support of a values-aligned bank leads to further positive impacts through the work that the bank’s loans and equity make possible. For example, say you open a checking account with a bank that lends to a nonprofit that installs reduced-price solar panels in low-income communities. You’re not only supporting the bank’s role with the nonprofit, you’re also supporting the positive climate impact of the nonprofit’s installations.

This theory of change is evident in Certified B Corporation Amalgamated Bank, which was founded in 1923 with a clear objective in mind: to bring banking access — 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.

Amalgamated Bank CEO and President Keith Mestrich

Following a merger in late 2017 with fellow B Corp 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 Denver, Colorado — and plans to expand to other locations across the country. Thanks to the merger, the B Corp bank has boosted its impact investing with socially responsible companies and organizations.

“By providing funding to organizations, we help fuel their growth and impact — whether that is new equipment needed to meet larger orders, energy upgrades to reduce operating costs and achieve higher margins, or real estate loans for green businesses that are expanding. We believe that if our clients are achieving their missions, then we are achieving ours: making the world a more just, compassionate and sustainable place,” says Amalgamated’s CEO and President Keith Mestrich.

Amalgamated Bank is part of the community of businesses that have used a third-party verification of their impact. Use the free B Impact Assessment to evaluate your company’s impact on all stakeholders, including the environment, your workers, your community and your customers.

Building a Better World by Financing Environmental Stewardship

Amalgamated Bank has served as a lending partner for Metrus Energy, a San Francisco-based organization that, according to Senior Lending Officer Bill Peterson, is a pioneer in providing cost-effective retrofits and energy-efficient measures for a variety of commercial properties.

“The organization designed one of the first ‘negawatt’ contracts, in which property owners pay for the improvements based solely on the energy savings derived,” Peterson says. “Metrus knows that the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint lies in utilizing new technology and controls to allow the thousands of inefficient existing buildings that were built prior to the year 2000 to use substantially less energy while delivering the same services.”

One high-impact area for Metrus is the efficiency upgrades it works on at hospitals and colleges. In order to provide these installations, Metrus needed financing support for its clients.

“Metrus finances energy- and water-efficiency upgrades at hospitals and colleges in partnership with Amalgamated Bank. Our projects improve the efficiency and health of these buildings and lower carbon emissions during each and every year of the project,” says Bob Hinkle, President and CEO of Metrus.

They also help meet Amalgamated’s goals of investing in projects that improve and enhance the communities around them.

“For too long, financial institutions have been part of the problem rather than part of the solution to our environmental, social and economic challenges,” Peterson says. “Utilizing our customer deposits for loans that finance energy-efficiency improvements to commercial and industrial properties helps reduce carbon emissions and furthers our commitment to environmental stewardship.”

For organizations like Metrus, working with a B Corp like Amalgamated Bank — and knowing the purpose-driven companies and nonprofits it supports — helps everyone advance their common missions.

“Being a B Corp makes a vital difference not only in the way we operate internally, but also to the clients whom we serve externally,” says VP of Marketing Blair Baldwin. “When they see that stamp of approval, they know that they are dealing with a financial institution that values social responsibility the same way that they do and that their money will be used to further a cleaner, greener, and safer planet. As their financial ally we are on a mission to work together to build a better world.”

The B Corp’s attention to all stakeholders, rather than just the bottom line, provides additional value for financial partners like Metrus.

“Amalgamated is a patient and knowledgeable partner that takes the time to understand the customers we serve and their place within the local community,” Hinkle says. “The added time they take to understand the impact of our projects helps many projects move forward that might otherwise go undone.”

B the Change gathers and shares the voices from within the movement of people using business as a force for good and the community of Certified B Corporations. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the nonprofit B Lab.

How B Corp Banks Are Building a Better World was originally published in B the Change on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Originally posted on B the Change - Medium by B the Change.

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