Community Spirit: Boiling Springs Savings Bank

Debra Cannariato, marketing and sales manager of Boiling Springs Savings Bank (left), tours the new Meadowlands Area YMCA, a Boiling Springs Community Alliance Program nonprofit, with Jane A. Egan, the YMCA location’s president and CEO. The 83,200-square-foot facility provides the region with child development, health, fitness, aquatics and community programming.

In Rutherford, N.J., Boiling Springs Savings Bank lets customers generate donations for their favorite local nonprofits.

By Cheryl Winokur Munk

For Boiling Springs Savings Bank, the strong desire to help nonprofits has morphed into several million dollars of financial support over the past 12 years.

Since 2006, Boiling Springs Savings Bank, a $1.7 billion-asset community bank based in Rutherford, N.J., has given its customers a no-cost way to support local nonprofits of their choosing through its Community Alliance Program (CAP). The program gives local nonprofit organizations the opportunity to earn donations based in part on the number of supporters—members, family and friends—that bank with Boiling Springs.

The program, which has grown considerably since its inception, works well for both the bank and its business and retail customers, according to Debra Cannariato, Boiling Springs’ marketing and sales manager, who also coordinates the program.

It helps nonprofits to have an “ in-house cheerleader” on their side to gain supporters, which raises additional funds for them, she says. It’s also a boon for customers, many of whom have chosen to bank with Boiling Springs because of the program. “It helps them feel good” and ensure money goes to their favorite nonprofits without actually needing to donate money themselves, she says.

How it works
Here are some of the particulars of the program: Participation is open to all nonprofit organizations that have an address within the New Jersey counties of Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Essex or Hudson, provided they meet certain basic standards, such as keeping their nonprofit status up to date. Nonprofits must also have an existing account or be willing to open one with Boiling Springs. Once a nonprofit is enrolled, individuals or businesses can support the organizations by designating their checking and savings accounts, CDs, IRAs or new loans at Boiling Springs to a registered nonprofit of their choice. Customers with more than one account at Boiling Springs have the option to support multiple organizations.

Once an enrolled nonprofit has at least 20 designated supporters, Boiling Springs makes quarterly donations based on a percentage of the average daily balances of its supporters’ accounts. All donations come directly from the bank—there’s no cost to the customer or the nonprofit organization.

As of March 2018, the CAP had made $3.36 million in donations. What’s more, donations in 2017 were 7.4 percent higher than they were in 2016, a testament to the program’s rising popularity. In all, 445 New Jersey nonprofit organizations are enrolled in the program; that’s up from 33 in 2006, Cannariato says. More than a fourth of the bank’s customers—27 percent—have earmarked one or more accounts to the CAP program, she adds.

Quick stat

$3.36 million

Community Alliance Program donations generated for local nonprofits since 2006, as of March 2018

While not every nonprofit receives the same level of financial support, the bank tries to ensure that each charity maintains the 20 supporters it needs to receive funds. If a nonprofit falls below the threshold, the bank reaches out to see how it can help raise the level of supporters, Cannariato says.

Promising beginnings
The Boiling Springs program came to life in 2006 after the wife of the bank’s then-president, Robert E. Stillwell, expressed concern to her husband about the difficulties charities face trying to attract donors. Stillwell met with other bank executives to discuss the issue and possible solutions, and from there, the CAP was born.

For Boiling Springs, the program is about more than financial support, although that’s a very important aspect, Cannariato says. It also offers employees the opportunity to actively participate in the communities its branch networks serve. The bank has 17 branches in the surrounding area.

All branch managers are encouraged to participate in the activities of the nonprofits Boiling Springs supports. The bank also encourages its senior managers to actively volunteer for the nonprofits. And each year, bank directors participate in a Habitat for Humanity Build Day, Cannariato says. “It’s part of our mantra to be good neighbors,” she says. “That’s truly what we’re all about.”

Recruitment tool

The CAP has brought the community bank new nonprofit customers and new retail customers, who have cited the program as the impetus, Cannariato says.

To drum up ongoing program support, Boiling Springs sends information to local nonprofits enrolled in the CAP program about ways to participate and advertises the program on its website. Program information is also on most nonprofit clients’ websites, Cannariato says.

She says the program’s success requires time, effort and organization. For other community banks interested in running a similar program, she recommends ensuring that their employees are committed to volunteering for the supported nonprofits, which strengthens the program.

Cannariato also advises banks to get 100 percent commitment from senior management before forging ahead. “If you’re not all committed to the program,” she says, “the program can’t work.”

Cheryl Winokur Munk is a writer in New Jersey.