By Rose Oswald Poels
At the heart of the banking industry is community. Now more than ever, it is imperative that members of the Wisconsin Bankers Association (WBA) shine a spotlight on the work they do to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities, both inside and outside the office.
Credit unions have long touted the ‘exemplary’ work they do to engage and support their communities. However, WBA and bankers from across the state know that banks, too, do important work to support their communities above and beyond what may be required under CRA. Between volunteering their time, donating supplies and money, and helping to educate community members young and old — among so many other things — bankers make a huge impact every day in their communities by reinvesting their time and money into the local economy and its people. However, many bankers are reluctant to take credit, highlight the work they do, or take time to share the information with WBA.
As the Association looks ahead to a busy 2023–2024 legislative session — including goals to pass legislation on several key issues and guard against harmful credit union expansion, credit card swipe fees (interchange), and privacy reform — we encourage bankers to share the work they do to better their communities. Keeping these examples top of mind for legislators helps to advance our advocacy efforts.
In demonstrating to our elected leaders the critical role banks play in supporting their neighbors, the Association has the ability to underscore how issues such as banking modernization and credit union expansion have much wider implications. The credit unions do a good job of convincing elected officials that they are mission focused, and community minded rather than solely profit driven. I would argue that Wisconsin banks are no different. WBA needs your help in sharing our industry’s strong message of community to counter the rhetoric and implications of the credit union industry’s message.
As you reflect upon all the ways in which your bank was involved in your communities in calendar year 2022, I ask that you please complete the WBA Community Involvement Survey to assist our team in accurately highlighting the unique ways WBA members partake in philanthropy and volunteer activities.
If you are looking for more ways to reach your community in 2023, I also encourage you to participate in WBA’s sixth annual Power of Community Week, April 17–22, 2023 — a campaign specifically focused on celebrating the commitment of bankers to their communities. This event also aligns with Community Banking Month and Financial Literacy Month and provides the perfect opportunity for all WBA members to make their community-focused efforts known!