As a 33-year veteran of the banking community, I’ve heard a wide range of philosophies when it comes to banks investing in and giving back to the community. Some are dedicated to giving donations each year to local programs. However, on the reverse, there are banks that don’t make giving a priority or feel their organization is too small to make an impact.
Giving back to the communities you serve is something I wholeheartedly believe in as a financial institution. As the president and CEO of Community Bank N.A., I always tell my team: We’re not in the banking business, we’re in the people business. When people walk into one of our branches, we’re not simply helping them with money decisions — we’re helping neighbors buy first homes, start their dream businesses, and finance their children’s college educations.
In the end, banks are people helping people, and it’s crucial we understand the power a bank holds to improve the lives of those around us.
Banks are the barometer of the community
While I think all companies, no matter the industry, should be invested in their community, I find this especially true for banks. As a function of who we are, banks are ingrained in every aspect of our communities. Along with working with countless local businesses for loans, investments and transactions, our staff also visits schools for financial-literacy programs and sits on boards and finance committees outside of work.
Bankers’ have their finger on the pulse of our region — we feel our community’s pains, we know the opportunities, and we’re invested in the future. When our communities succeed, we all succeed.
Making a lasting impact
When deciding which organizations to support, the decision can quickly become overwhelming with many worthy nonprofits vying for donations. As an integral part of the community, banks have the advantage of understanding the direct needs of our communities.
We’re community partners by nature, already entrenched in the daily needs of our neighbors through loans, deposits services and various investments. When the local veterinarian’s office needs funds for an expansion, we’re there. When a startup bakery needs help with a business plan, we’re there. Therefore, when making charitable decisions, banks can naturally assess the potential lasting impact. How many people will it support? What is the long-term impact? Is the need immediate?
Each of our branches has the autonomy to choose the organizations they support based on their communities’ immediate needs. Many times, these focus on education, health care, and social services. From backpack programs and after-school programs to food shelters and building homes, banks can make an impact with charitable donations that will be felt in the community for years.
Time and time again, we hear community involvement is key, no matter if it’s a small business, commercial, checking, or mortgage customer. People want to know you care, and there’s no better way to show that than investing in your home.
Mark Tryniski is president and CEO of Community Bank N.A., one of the country’s 150 largest financial institutions. It ranks number four in deposit market share in the 16-county Central New York region. Tryniski has been with Community Bank since 2003 and in his current position since August 2006.