A Practical Guide to Capturing CRA Service Credits

You may be doing all the right things to support CRA, but are you getting all the credit you deserve? Identifying and tracking CRA service credits are often largely untapped opportunities for banks. That is particularly true if your bank has Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs that also support your CRA efforts. And this is critical: If you have a software platform in place that tracks and reports on your CSR initiatives in the areas of grantmaking, employee giving, or employee volunteering, you have a built-in mechanism for capturing CRA service credits — credits that you might otherwise overlook. In fact, leading banks, including 25 of the top 50, use CyberGrants CSR software to maximize their CSR programs, improving trackability for CRA credits.

The alignment between CSR and CRA.

At CyberGrants, we’re seeing big changes in the CSR field. And our banking clients, like our other enterprise corporate clients, are building and executing their CSR programs in a much different way than in the past. Rather than a “responsibility,” CSR is an opportunity to invest in creating real impact in communities served. An investment that can deliver demonstrable returns — not only financially, but in respect to brand equity, customer loyalty, and hiring. (See some amazing stats in our last paragraph.) This new approach aligns extraordinarily well with CRA requirements. Top, forward-thinking banks are showing the way with initiatives that they are tracking with CSR software and, at the same time, capturing for CRA service credit. This is a case where the adage “win-win” most definitely applies.

Global needs, local imperatives.

The need for corporate giving is greater than ever. Climate change alone has resulted in disaster costs in the US exceeding $150 billion per year over the last three years. This volatility means that, in terms of charitable efforts, large banks need to react to events on a national or global scale. But at the same time, they must meet the local needs of lower- and middle-income (LMI) communities as required by the CRA.

The good news is, the range of CRA services that meet the service test has grown. Banks are becoming more innovative and creative in the services they provide LMI communities. These efforts span everything from financial literacy and wellness to health and human services, workforce readiness, and NPO board service, as well as many other forms of pro bono work.

Here are examples from CyberGrants clients.

Wells Fargo donated nearly $300 million in 2017, mostly in the form of microgrants, to help strengthen local businesses, community centers, neighborhoods, and schools.

Bank of America Charitable Foundation contributed more than $200 million in 2017 in support of multiple issues including hunger relief, economic and workplace development, building vibrant communities, and developing student leaders. They pair their foundation grantmaking with robust employee giving programs for community needs, employee assistance, and disaster relief.

Wells Fargo and Bank of America both use CyberGrants software to execute their CSR programs while capturing their CRA activity. Without such a software platform in place, identifying and tracking across this wide scope of activity can be vexing and service credits can get overlooked. So, how do you make it happen?

Steps you can take.

We’ve created this practical guide to capturing activity and maximizing your CSR programs for CRA service credits.

  • Add CRA eligibility questions to grant applications.
  • Track all service/volunteer hours by assessment area. If you provide services such as school savings programs or credit or foreclosure prevention counseling, make sure you are tracking those service programs — by assessment area, to be sure you are getting credit.
  • Consider your online seminars as CRA service. Oftentimes, online programs provided to LMI groups are overlooked.
  • Leverage board service. Your bank’s executive team may commit time to local nonprofits by serving on boards. If this is happening, your CRA teams are likely not aware, or are manually tracking board service in emails and spreadsheets. A CSR platform allows employees to not only find available board service opportunities and express interest, but also log their service hours and request a grant, if applicable.
  • Integrate data sources. You already have the sources of data — you just need to connect the dots to provide a full view of all CRA service activities. Contact us to learn how CyberGrants can help

A robust CSR program has benefits that go well beyond its implications for the CRA.

Studies have shown that consumers view companies with CSR programs more positively when programs align with causes that they care about, and will switch brands based on CSR programs. Those in the Millennial generation are more loyal to companies with strong CSR programs, and two-thirds won’t work for a company that isn’t focused on CSR.1 These perceptions go straight to the bottom line. Social investment has been associated with a 20% increase in sales, 13% increase in productivity, 50% decrease in employee turnover, and boost of up to 6% in the company’s share price.2

At CyberGrants, we are a single platform to manage all of your philanthropic giving. We help companies maximize their investment in CSR programs with software that allows them to achieve agile social impact. Banks with agile social impact are able to respond quickly to emerging needs, tightly align their programs and causes with corporate goals, and report on the impact of their initiatives. As well as ease the burden of complying with the CRA.

To learn more, contact us.

1Cone Communications, 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study

2ACCP and IO Sustainability, The Business ROI of Social Investments, 2018