James Elrick, PR Specialist
Have you heard the one about the socially responsible bank?
FreeBalance is a For Profit Social Enterprise (FOPSE) contributing to improved governance and development outcomes. We also hire locally to ensure independently sustainable implementations.
So it’s always interesting to see another company that adheres to FOPSE values.
And the surprising thing is that it’s a bank. I never thought that a bank could be a FOPSE, open and transparent. But Banca Civica proved it can be done.
Banca Civica was founded as a Spanish savings bank. In Spain, savings banks are private financial institutions organized as foundations. Banca Civica is concerned on savings, focuses on the poorer classes, concentrates in a geographical area, and allocates its profits (Banca Civica allocates 30 percent) to social and charity projects. Download the brochure >>
Banca Civica promotes a type of banking known as “civic banking”. Civic banking turns traditional banking on its head as it places the customer at the center of its business practices. Civic banking gives customers rights and in the process creates duties for the bank to follow.
At Banca Civica, customers have five core rights:
The Right to Know.
Customers know how much Banca Civica earns with them.
- The Right to Decide.
Customers choose what social projects they will earmark 30% of the profits generated through the business they conduct with the bank. In 2009, over 6,500 non-profits and community-based organizations received more than $130 million. Banca Civica has a web portal that enables customers to pick social projects.
- The Right to Accountability.
The non-profits and community-based organizations explain to Banca Civica customers what they do with the money they receive.
- The Right to Participate.
Customers are able to support their social projects as volunteers.
- The Right to Traceability.
Customers know where their savings are being invested.
I can’t imagine customers at a bank in Canada determining the social project that bank profits will be used to help. I know Canadian banks have social projects, which I do value. But the bank chose them, not me, not the customers. Banca Civica listens to its customers and then does what they want. A true FOPSE with CSR as core.
Banca Civica even helps banks and businesses incorporate the principles of Civic Banking. They offer programs which provide those organizations with the benefits of the Civic Banking model adapted to social and entrepreneurial reality. Experts from Banca Civica work with other businesses in the implementation of advanced CSR systems, which combine economic profitability with social benefits. So not only does Banca Civica practice CSR, they also enlighten other organisations about the benefits of CSR and how to become a CSR. Very impressive.
The good news is that Banca Civica is opening branches in the USA. You can learn more at http://www.bancacivica.es/ (Spanish website currently).