You can put your money where your mouth is, or you can put your money where your heart is, and for one bank headquartered in upstate New York, that philosophy is paying huge dividends for its community.
Ulster Savings Bank (USB) has been a fixture in the Hudson Valley since 1851. To commemorate their 170th anniversary on April 12, the institution launched an initiative to celebrate with ‘170 Acts of Kindness’.
“As a mutual savings bank, we were created for the benefit of our customers and the community, we have no shareholders. That enables us to keep all profits local and reinvest into the community in a number of ways,” the bank’s CEO and President Bill Calderara explained on the company website.
“Celebrating our 170th anniversary with just as many random acts of kindness is our way of spreading kindness and supporting our community following a challenging year.”
Since the effort began, the community outreach team at Ulster Savings has donated toys and puzzles to a local homeless shelter, as well as stuffed animals to an area child abuse prevention facility.
They’ve also picked up the tab for everything from garbage collection, haircuts, pizza, groceries, restaurant meals, flowers, and coffee—to the fees for New York State auto inspections at local garages—all to ease the worries of local citizens who’ve been financially impacted by COVID-19.
“Especially in times of crisis, being responsive to [the] community’s critical needs is paramount,” a statement from the bank’s website explained.
Beginning in March 2020, USB “proactively dispersed $64,500 to immediately support local efforts in providing much-needed food and other essential services during the COVID-19 crisis.”
But the community-centric bank had a well-earned reputation for its philanthropy long before the pandemic. Twenty years ago, in honor of the bank’s 150th anniversary, Ulster Savings created its in-house charitable foundation, the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation, to “assist the community in the areas of education, housing, and health/human services.”
“We were founded for our customers and for the benefit of the community at large. That’s part of our DNA,” Calderara said in an interview with WRNQ-92’s Annie in the Morning. “We take a good portion of our annual profits and give it back out to the community in donations.”
Last year in response to the pandemic, USB gave out close to $600,000 in grants. While the money is certainly a much-needed boost, Calderara says everyone who works for USB is committed to sharing time as well. “Our goal is that 100% of employees volunteer every year,” he told Annie. (That works out to roughly 10,000 man-hours of community service annually.)
Is it any wonder this bank with a huge heart enjoys a high rate of return in customer loyalty for its philanthropic ways? We know it certainly piqued our interest.