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In an era of heightened social and environmental consciousness, many consumers are recognizing the power of their financial choices. They seek banking options that not only offer traditional financial services but also actively contribute to communities and important causes.
By choosing a bank that gives back, individuals can make a positive impact on society and the environment while managing their money. These banks go beyond profit-making and prioritize social responsibility, invest in initiatives that support communities, promote sustainability and drive positive change.
Chosen as the best socially responsible bank for the 2022 Bankrate awards, New York City-based Spring Bank actively supports local businesses, promotes economic development and provides affordable financial services to individuals and nonprofits.
As a designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), Spring Bank directs 74 percent of its deposits toward community financing. This intentional allocation of resources ensures that the bank’s funds are channeled back into the communities it serves, fostering economic growth, supporting small businesses and providing vital financial opportunities for underserved areas.
One of the ways Spring Bank gives back is by partnering with and providing financial support to local nonprofits, like the Bronx River Alliance, which helps conserve and enhance the health of the Bronx River and its surrounding ecosystem.
Spring Bank offers a range of banking products designed to meet the needs of its customers. The Green Checking account, for example, provides a sustainable banking option with no monthly fees or overdraft fees.
Spring Bank offers multiple savings account options, each with a low minimum deposit requirement of $10 to $25, making it easier for individuals to start saving. While the savings yields may not be the most competitive in the market, they still provide a decent return on investment. The bank also offers eight certificate of deposit (CD) term options with a minimum deposit requirement of $250.
Forbright Bank is a financial institution that places a strong emphasis on sustainability and actively contributes to green initiatives. The bank’s sustainability goal is to dedicate 50 percent of its portfolio to Sustainable Finance by 2025.
In line with its commitment to carbon offset projects, Forbright Bank actively supports initiatives such as carbon sequestration on Hudson Farm and the protection of California’s redwood forests. One of Forbright Bank’s contributions to environmental sustainability occurred in 2021 when it syndicated and led a $140 million lending relationship with PosiGen, a residential solar leasing and energy efficiency provider.
Forbright offers checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs. The bank provides competitive CD rates, with a particularly attractive yield paid on a one-year CD. With 11 CD term options, customers have the flexibility to choose the term that aligns with their investment preferences.
While the savings rates offered by Forbright Bank may not be the most competitive in the market, they are still above average, providing customers with a reasonable option for growing their savings. The bank also offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and an interest-bearing checking account option.
There is a $10 monthly maintenance fee for checking and tiered savings accounts. However, customers have the opportunity to waive the maintenance fee by maintaining a minimum balance of $500.
Accounts can be opened online or at one of the bank’s four branches — three of which are in Maryland and one in Virginia.
Save is a unique fintech platform that stands out for its commitment to reforestation. While not technically a bank, Save collaborates with Webster Bank, where deposits are stored and protected by FDIC insurance. At the core of Save’s mission is the goal to plant 20,000 trees in North America. This focus on reforestation is driven by the understanding of the crucial role that trees play in combating climate change, fostering biodiversity and restoring ecosystems.
Save offers a distinctive savings account, Market Savings, that combines elements of a CD and an investment account. Customers have the option to select a term of either one year or five years, during which their deposit is committed to a savings account. The Market Savings account earns interest from investments made on behalf of the account holder. However, unlike a typical investment account, there is little risk involved as no deposits can be lost since they are stored in a savings account.
Save offers three investment portfolios for customers to choose from, catering to different financial preferences and goals. Notably, one of these portfolios, the ESG portfolio, is dedicated to investing exclusively in socially and environmentally conscious companies. This feature provides customers with a secure way to contribute to reforestation efforts while potentially earning a high return on their savings.
Because interest earned comes from market investments, the Market Savings APY fluctuates often based on the performance of the investments. However, the estimated APY, calculated based on investment averages, tends to be higher than what is typically offered by traditional savings accounts. There is a $1,000 minimum deposit to open the account, and customers may forfeit earnings if they withdraw funds before their selected term is up.
With over 56 branches mainly located in underserved markets in the South, Southern Bancorp serves as a catalyst for economic development and social progress. The bank has grown to $2.6 billion in assets and is a designated CDFI.
As a certified B Corporation, Southern Bancorp goes beyond traditional banking by prioritizing its social and environmental impact. One of the ways Southern Bancorp gives back is through its efforts to provide affordable housing. Over the years, the bank has helped approximately 20,000 individuals with attaining affordable housing.
Southern Bancorp offers several checking accounts, savings accounts and a money market account. The Lifestyle Checking account offered by Southern Bancorp requires an initial deposit of $100 to open. While there is a monthly fee of $7, customers can waive this fee by opting for paperless statements or maintaining a balance of $500 or more.
The Regular Savings account offered by Southern Bancorp requires an initial deposit of $50 to open. Customers can avoid the $5 quarterly fee by maintaining the $50 minimum.
National Cooperative Bank
National Cooperative Bank (NCB) was first chartered in 1978 with the purpose of addressing the unique financial needs of cooperative-owned organizations.
In 2022 alone, NCB made loans and investments totaling $475 million to benefit those in need. These funds have gone to affordable housing initiatives, community development projects and other vital programs that uplift underserved populations.
NCB’s commitment to education and scholarship programs further demonstrates its dedication to giving back. In 2020, NCB provided $145,000 in scholarship funds to esteemed institutions such as the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and the United Negro College Fund. Additionally, NCB established the first-ever Minority Excellence Scholarship for Southern State Community College in Hillsboro, Ohio.
Customers of NCB enjoy the convenience of accessing over 32,000 fee-free ATMs through the MoneyPass ATM Network. The bank’s interest-bearing checking account allows customers to earn interest on their balances without any minimum deposit requirements. However, there’s a $500 minimum to waive the $15 monthly fee on the account.
While money market accounts and CDs may require higher initial deposits, they offer attractive options for customers seeking to grow their savings. The money market account, with a $100 minimum deposit, provides a competitive interest rate, although customers must maintain a minimum balance of at least $5,000 to avoid the $25 monthly fee. NCB also offers various CD options, all requiring a minimum deposit of $2,500.
If you’re considering switching banks, it’s important to assess your personal values and priorities. Research various financial institutions to find those that align with your principles while also offering quality banking services. Evaluate their products, fees and minimum requirements to ensure they meet your financial needs.
By choosing a bank that gives back and supports causes you care about, you can make a meaningful difference while managing your money responsibly. Your financial decisions have the power to contribute to positive change and create a more sustainable and just future.