The number of charities banking with The Co-operative Bank has doubled since 2008, a sign that third sector organisations are increasingly seeking to ensure the aims of their financial providers mirror those of the sector.
The Bank’s dedicated Charity and Social Enterprise team has seen significant growth since the height of the financial crisis in 2008. Customer numbers have increased from 2,481 to 4,818 and deposits from those customers have more than tripled from £225m to £745m.
Whilst many of its rivals have scaled back their support for voluntary organisations during this period, the Bank has stepped up its commitment to the sector. As well as creating new dedicated teams based in Manchester and Scotland, it increased the size of operation based in London.
The figures coincide with National Ethical Investment Week which runs from 16 to 23 October and is run by UKSIF (UK Sustainable investment and Finance Association). This year the Bank is working alongside UKSIF to increase awareness and understanding of the ethical finance options available to the third sector.
Debbie Wheeler, Head of the specialist Charity & Social Enterprise Team at The Co-operative Bank said: “The figures are confirmation that the Bank is now seen as a genuine alternative to the traditional providers in the market.
“The turmoil of recent years has illustrated to customers how banks can use their money irresponsibly. In the case of charities and social enterprises, it could even mean their money is being used in direct conflict to the aims of their organisation.
“It appears that a shift is now occurring in the sector to ensure that where they place their money is aligned with their charitable and campaigning objectives.
Whilst the trend for charities to incorporate ethics into their financial decision making is on the up, it still represents a relatively small share of the overall market. The Co-operative is concerned that inertia and confusion is putting organisations off considering the options available.
Debbie adds: “Our research shows that some charities are reluctant to switch their banking facilities due to concerns such as it will result in a loss of regular payments from donors. However in most instances a change in banking provider will not affect these payments.”
“The figures are further evidence that the Bank has benefited from the prudent approach and trust gained following the financial crisis as it maintained support for customers without recourse to taxpayers’ money.”
The Bank believes its relationship approach, co-operative model and position as the UK’s only high street bank with a clear Ethical Policy will appeal to the charities sector.
It is an established provider to charities and social enterprises of all sizes and offers banking services to some of the UK’s most well-known groups such as Christian Aid and Amnesty International.
For charities with annual turnover above £1m it offers a tailored banking service supported by the knowledge and expertise of a dedicated relationship manager. For groups with turnover below this amount it offers the award winning Community Direct Plus Account, which offers free banking, and the opportunity to apply for project funding from the Customer Donation Fund.
Notes to Editors:
Case studyTees Valley Community Foundation
is a registered charity and an independent non-profit grant making organisation that promotes and supports the long term sustainability of the Tees Valley region focused on issues of deprivation and poverty.
In February 2011, following a review of their existing provider, the charity moved their full banking to the Co-operative Bank on the basis that as well as meeting their service and product requirements the bank's ethics and commitment to community support provided, according to Hugh McGouran, Chief Executive, “a great fit all round”.
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About The Co-operative Banking Group
The Co-operative Banking Group, formerly known as The Co-operative Financial Services, is the banking and insurance arm of The Co-operative Group, which is the world’s largest consumer co-operative with around six million members, over £14 billion turnover, and core business interests in financial services, food, travel, pharmacy and funeral care. The Co-operative Group has over 5,000 retail trading outlets.
Following the merger with Britannia on 1 August 2009, the organisation is one of the largest and most highly diversified mutual businesses operating in both retail and corporate markets.
As part of The Co-operative Group, the business is characterised by its unique ethical and member reward policies and very high levels of customer advocacy.
The Co-operative Banking Group has £70 billion in assets, 12,000 staff and nine million customers. It has over 300 high street branches, 20 corporate banking centres and major presences in Manchester, Leek, London, Plymouth, Skelmersdale and Stockport.
It is the only mutual organisation that enables its members to earn financial rewards for the products they hold, as well as giving them the opportunity to have a say in how the business is run.