Change Bank Provider

Right now our bank provider is Chase. I have real concerns about banking with them.

  1. They seem not very adept and supporting nonprofits as opposed to your typical for-profit corporation.

  2. The bank itself does not have an explicit commitment to equity.

I did some research and two top contenders appear to be Springbank and Amalgamated.

Both are B-corps, have physical locations in NYC, and give access to ATMs.

I’m curious now about

  • Customer service experience
  • Fees
  • Support for nonprofits
  • Online portal experience
  • Links to accounting software like Quickbooks
  • Permission levels for multiple users
  • Recommendations from other nonprofits
  • Financial literacy support
  • How will the bank grow with us?

What else should we be paying attention to?

Note: Thank you to XR NYC for sharing about their most recent bank protests which sparked my doing research into this.

When Updating Banks
Recurring Subscriptions (check Bank statement)
Open Collective

I just spoke with Spring Bank and they appear very promising.

They take a community bank approach. They’re physically located in the Bronx and Harlem and want to replace predatory check cashing places.

They have a person dedicated to supporting nonprofits. They do not change fees for nonprofit checking accounts or savings accounts (given minimum of $100 in the account).

They have online banking services including Bill Pay and ACH deposits, an app, and the ability to have multiple users with different permission levels.

Online reviews are positive and more positive than Amalgamated.

They have, in the past, done financial literacy workshops.

My overall experience with them was very pleasant. They were easy to get a hold of and the person I spoke with gave me their personal email address and phone number so I could reach them directly in the future.

I tried to contact Amalgamated as well and I couldn’t get through their chat system. I then called them and unfortunately was only able to leave my information so they could call me back. On their website they also don’t have a dedicated page for nonprofit support. My gut says the proposal is to go with Spring Bank!

Hey everyone. From a values standpoint, I agree with switching banks. 100% support.

Deborah, at my day job we use Spring Bank. The biggest thing to know is that with community banks you lose the “conveniences” big banks offer. For example, Spring Bank doesn’t have a good app. The operating hours for the branches are a bit shorter and the wait time is long. There is a literal scanner you have to use for non-teller transactions lol.

Stuff like that. Basically you just have to budget more time when using a community bank. You have to be prepared to be very patient and to wait/go slow.

Re: Amalgamated - they closed their last branch in the Bronx in 2020. As of last year, they continued to plan to close branches citing low usage. I can ask if I know other nonprofits that use them.

On a values standpoint, Amalgamated has used their money to do more progressive things on economic inequality - social impact finance, community wealth building, supporting unions, etc. Spring Bank often engages BIPOC community in a very liberal, charity-like way.

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Finance Circle consented to the following!

  • Open a Spring Bank Account
  • Move $5000 from Chase into Spring Bank
  • Re-evaluate in January 2022

We now pass this proposal to the Mission Circle/Board to decide.

The Mission Circle consented to open Spring Bank Account as well. I just submitted the paperwork. :slightly_smiling_face:

We now have a Spring Bank checking account! I moved an initial $3000 over to meet the checking account minimum of $2500 and will move additional funds over after we verify that the transaction went through correctly.

I learned that Spring Bank is updating their online banking platform in March and can only start syncing QuickBooks then, so I propose that we don’t use the account actively until we can test that process out. Otherwise, it’ll add a burden on our payment recorder and bookkeeper.

My feedback on the experience of Spring Bank so far is

  • We are receiving great, responsive customer support.
  • I’m having a lot of trouble with the online banking functionalities. I’m still not able to sign into the cash management app from my phone.
  • I haven’t seen very much documentation of how-tos, even as simple as how to initiate transfers from one bank to another.
  • There’s a lack of syncing with other systems. Hopefully the platform update in March makes it possible for this to happen.

I’ve now been trying to hook Spring Bank up with our various payment set-ups.

What I’ve observed so far is a lot of difficulty in making this happen.

  • I couldn’t set up Melio Payments with Spring Bank and asking for support has not led to a quick resolution
  • I couldn’t use the automated process to activate our Spring Bank debit card

Here are other banks to explore:
Brooklyn Cooperative
Lower East Side People’s Credit Union
Neighborhood Trust Federal Credit Union

This idea comes from the New York Foundation which is hosting a webinar on Community Banking: Why it matters to grassroots groups for New York Foundation grantees.

When it comes to choosing a financial institution, many of us default to a local bank. But private banks aren’t our only option. Ever wonder about community banking alternatives? And how your organization could partner with them to benefit your institution and your constituency?

The term Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) was first coined more than 30 years ago to identify a range of community-based lenders committed to addressing the capital gaps resulting from redlining in communities of color. CDFIs include community development credit unions, banks and loan funds, with a common mission of promoting community development and primarily focused on lending to communities previously excluded from good quality banking services. In NY state, we have more than 50 CDFIs that provide a range of financing that fuels affordable housing, small businesses, community facilities and other big development activities.

The CDFI credit union sector focuses on banking access and lending to consumers and entrepreneurs, providing access to loans for emergencies, to build and repair credit, start or expand a small business and get on a pathway to building wealth and assets. These institutions deliver financial coaching and guidance on how to address a range of financial issues and challenges. They also organize to fight against the plague of payday and other predatory lending that extract money from consumers and communities.

These credit unions are financial cooperatives – which means when you open an account you become a member and shareholder of that cooperative; and as such can vote in (and run for) the board of director and other governance committees. Also, as cooperatives every dollar earned by the credit union gets recycled right back into the membership in the form of lower rates on loans, interest on savings or expanded service.