By Karen Kroll
Stop by a branch of Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank on a Friday, and you’ll probably notice many red polo shirts. Cape Cod Five provides financial and volunteer support for Red Shirt Fridays, a nonpolitical organization whose mission is to show support for America’s servicemen and women. Employees are encouraged to wear red shirts on Fridays, and customers who volunteer or make donations to local organizations that support military members and veterans can receive complimentary Cape Cod Five Red Shirt Fridays polo shirts.
Cape Cod Five also provides financial contributions to numerous other military and veteran organizations—including the Cape and Islands Veterans Outreach Center, Cape Cod Cares for the Troops, and Heroes in Transition, according to Kevin Howard, chief marketing and community engagement officer with the Orleans, Massachusetts-based institution. The bank’s efforts have garnered “a great deal of positive feedback from customers and employees,” he said.
In fact, since its founding 162 years ago, Cape Cod Five has grown to more than $3 billion in assets. It’s one of the largest independent banks in the Cape and southeast Massachusetts.
One key to its growth and success is its commitment to the communities it serves.
“We see community engagement as part of the mission of our bank,” said bank president Dorothy Savarese. “It’s embedded in everything we do.”
Moving the needle.
Cape Cod Five strives to focus its philanthropic and community engagement efforts on initiatives in which it can “help move the needle,” Savarese added. It also looks for issues that are pressing within the communities it serves.
One example is the opioid crisis. Cape Cod Five supports both prevention and rehabilitation programs. Savarese sits on the board of Gosnold on Cape Cod, a nationally recognized addiction prevention and treatment center.
The bank also is a founding sponsor of the Behavioral Health Summit. This program brings together more than 300 regional treatment providers, law enforcement professionals, and others to discuss best practices and new solutions in tackling substance abuse.
Affordable housing is another focus of Cape Cod Five. Howard notes that access to housing in the area is challenging, due in part to the large numbers of second homeowners and retirees, all of whom can boost values in the market. One example of the bank’s commitment is its agreement to invest in the second phase of the Village Green workforce housing project, which will deliver sixty affordable apartments. Cape Cod Five also supports Habitat for Humanity and other programs with volunteers and financial contributions.
Community engagement committees.
To be sure, identifying which of the many worthwhile initiatives the bank will be able to “move the needle,” requires ongoing, thoughtful assessments. Cape Cod Five has community engagement committees at both the management and board levels that meet weekly. “We get input from the board and from across the enterprise,” Savarese said.
As a starting point, committee members review the available research. This helps them understand the challenges—for example—around affordable housing in many Cape Cod Five communities. In addition, members evaluate how effectively organizations have deployed past contributions.
How they do it: guided by the “Five Ways.”
Cape Cod Five’s community engagement efforts also are guided by what the bank refers to as “Five Ways,” or principles.
- Community banking.
“Cape Cod Five serves its communities by providing high-quality community banking services to both individuals and businesses,” Howard said.
This may seem fundamental, but in the desire to compete with an ever-expanding list of financial institutions, the raison d’être behind community banking can get lost. At Cape Cod Five, capital is re-invested locally, rather than paid to shareholders, Howard pointed out. Deposits fund loans for local businesses, mortgages, and consumer loans. This sort of banking makes communities stronger, he added.
- Responsible business.
The second of the five ways refers to the bank’s commitment to proper ethics and sound business practices, as well as its environmental stewardship, Howard said. A Hyannis branch is partly powered by solar panels, and a Nantucket branch is LEED certified. Howard notes that environmental stewardship is critical in an area like the Cape, where tourism plays a significant role in the economy.
- Corporate leadership and volunteerism.
Bank management and employees apply the third principle, corporate leadership and volunteerism, by actively participating in community organizations and events. “Wherever you look within the communities we serve, you’ll find Cape Cod Five employees pitching in,” Howard said. The bank estimates that its employees contribute about 1,500 volunteer hours each year.
- Financial education.
Cape Cod Five’s focus on financial education, the fourth of the Five Ways, recognizes that a solid understanding of financial matters is essential to success in life, whether one is balancing a household budget or managing a business. The bank’s seminars on homebuying, cyber security, and Social Security and Medicare, among other topics, reach more than 5,000 people each year.
The final principal guiding Cape Cod Five’s commitment to its communities is about providing financial support to numerous nonprofit community organizations through bank sponsorships and grants from its foundation.
Indeed, the bank’s philanthropic contributions totaled nearly $1.2M in 2017, and it’s given more than $1 million annually for each of the last three years. “We’re passionate about what we do,” Savarese said. “We love coming to work for this institution to make a meaningful impact on the community.”
Karen M. Kroll is a business and financial services writer and content marketer based in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Email: [email protected].