Banks are financial institutions that accept deposits, give out loans, and help keep an economy healthy. They also make investments, so depending on what they’re investing in, banks can significantly help or harm the world. Take fossil fuels, for example. When banks invest in fossil fuel companies, they’re contributing to climate change. Everyone who banks there is also participating. If you want your money to only go to causes you believe in, you should consider moving your money to a socially responsible bank. These banks are committed to green investments, social justice causes, and other corporate social responsibility practices. You can identify these types of banks by looking at third-party certifications from B Corp, the Global Alliance on Banking on Values (GABV), Bank Green’s Fossil Free, and so on. Here are 11 examples of socially responsible banks around the world:
#1. Amalgamated Bank
Based in: New York, New York
This almost century-old bank in New York uses deposited money to support progressive causes, social justice, and sustainable organizations. It works with 1000+ unions for teachers, firefighters, steelworkers, and others, as well as with non-profits, social impact enterprises, and political organizations. Clients include Color of Change, New York City Habitat for Humanity, and America Votes. Services include personal banking, commercial banking, and institutional investing.
Amalgamated Bank has several issues it cares about, including climate justice, immigrant rights, voting rights, criminal justice, economic justice, and LGBTQ+ rights. The bank has over 400 employees and a majority female workforce. In 2019, the bank formed a CSR Committee that supports the bank’s corporate social responsibility, sustainability, health and safety, and other goals. It’s a Certified B Corporation.
Based in: Oakland, California
Opened in 2007, this community-development bank has 7 branches in California, Oregon, and Washington. Beneficial practices what it calls “Beneficial Banking™,” which strives to help people and protect nature. It offers personal banking services like checking, savings, auto loans, and credit cards, as well as business banking and nonprofit banking. Those who bank with Beneficial get access to 70,000+ surcharge-free ATMs. By banking with Beneficial, you can support causes like climate justice, affordable housing, and social justice initiatives.
As all socially responsible banks should do, Beneficial State Bank measures its impact. According to December 2021 data, the bank had given $201 million in loans to nonprofits, supported 13,000 affordable housing units, and produced 687 million kWh in clean energy. Beneficial is a Certified B Corporation and strives to maintain “radical transparency” through third-party audits and impact evaluators.
#3. Ando Money
Based in: San Diego, CA
Ando Money is a climate-focused banking option that funds green initiatives like clean energy and sustainable agriculture. The platform offers services like mobile banking, a no-fee savings account, early pay, and more. Ando also offers affordable and sustainable home, pet, auto, renter, and umbrella insurance. Because Ando’s banking services are provided by Community Federal Savings Bank, your banking is secure. Funds up to $250,000 are FDIC-insured.
You can get a clearer idea of Ando’s impact with the Ando Impact Center on their app. Using proprietary modeling that factors in your account history, national averages, and your participation in Ando programs and promotions, Ando calculates emissions reductions and financial rewards estimates. Ando Money is a Certified B Corporation and Fossil-Free Certified.
#4. Southern Bancorp
Based in: Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Founded in 1986, Southern Bancorp is a Community Development Financial Institution committed to helping underserved communities and families. Today, it has $2 billion in assets and 51 branches serving over 65,000 customers. The bank focuses on what it calls “Big Hairy Audacious Goals,” which are 10-year goals that support home ownership and housing, jobs, and savings and asset accumulation. Southern Bancorp is a Certified B Corporation, part of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, and a Green America member.
The bank offers several products, including personal checking and savings accounts, business accounts, personal loans, home loans, and auto loans. It also offers small business loans, agricultural loans, and poultry loans, which are designed for entrepreneurs in the poultry industry.
#5. M&F Bank
Based in: Durham, NC
In 1907, Black Americans couldn’t trust traditional banking institutions and had few options for financing homes or businesses. That year, nine businessmen founded the Mechanics and Farmers Bank (M&F Bank). M&F Bank is the 2nd oldest minority-owned bank in the US. It works to enhance the wealth and protection of underserved communities.
Products include personal checking and savings accounts, business checking and savings, home loans, auto loans, small business loans, credit cards, health savings accounts, and digital banking. The bank also offers two financial education programs: Smart Money Habits and Advancing Your Small Business. M&F Bank is a Community Development Financial Institution.
#6. Triodos Bank
Based in: Zeist, The Netherlands
Founded in 1980, Triodos Bank has helped businesses, organizations, and individuals use banking as a way to promote sustainable development. The bank uses a three-tier approach when making investment and lending decisions: 1) Does this contribute to positive social, environmental and cultural change? 2) Is it viable? and 3) Is it rooted in society and supported by those around the entrepreneur? The bank also has three impact themes: social, culture, and the environment.
Banking services are available in Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Triodos is an independent bank, so it has Depository Receipt Holders, not stakeholders, and they are not listed on a stock exchange.
#7. Starling Bank
Based in: London, England
Starling was Britain’s first digital bank. Its other accomplishments include running on renewable energy, being a founding member of Tech Zero (with no investments in harmful industries), and launching the UK’s first Mastercard cards made from recycled plastic. The bank, which is a Living Wage employer, also only partners with suppliers and brands that treat people well.
Starling offers products like personal accounts, joint accounts, teen accounts, banking for businesses, loans, and secure money transfers. Skeptical about a completely digital bank? Starling is committed to security and fraud protection. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects eligible deposits up to £85,000. The app has several layers of protection when you’re applying for an account, including video ID and passport or UK driving license verification.
Based in: Madrid, Spain
BBVA has 160+ years of experience in the finance world. It has grown into a global group committed to six priorities, including improving clients’ financial health and creating a sustainable future. It’s deeply invested in its Corporate Social Responsibility Policy and General Sustainable Policy, which includes investments in social programs, promoting financial education, and pledging billions in green finance, sustainable infrastructure, and more.
BBVA is frequently recognized for its accomplishments. It was named Europe’s most sustainable bank three years in a row by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index and the best bank in CSR in Western Europe in 2021 by Euromoney. BBVA serves clients in several countries, including the UK, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, Argentina, and Mexico.
Based in: Nairobi, Kenya
Equity’s purpose is the financial empowerment and elevation of communities at grassroots levels in Africa. Its goal is to transform banking and provide access to financial resources that can change lives. Core values include innovation, integrity, teamwork, unity of purpose, and effective corporate governance. They offer a range of products debit and credit cards, mobile banking, savings accounts, investment accounts, loans (including loans designed for agri-business, development, and water services), and insurance.
In 2008, Equity Group Holdings launched the Equity Group Foundation, which is a nonprofit. The foundation supports causes such as clinics, clean energy products, agricultural finance, social protection programs, and more. For 11 years in a row, Equity Bank has been awarded the Think Business Award. In 2022, it also received awards for Best Retail Bank, Best Bank in SME Banking, and Sustainable CSR.
Based in: Vancouver, Canada
Vancity is a member-owned financial co-operative. With over $28 billion in assets, it’s also Canada’s largest community credit union. It has 55 branches through Metro Vancouver, Victoria, the Fraser Valley, and other areas. The bank’s goal is to build an “accountable, sustainable, supportive financial model” that promotes a better world. According to its website, in the last year Vancity funded over 3,000 affordable housing units, shared $13.9 million with members and the community, and deferred $4.1 billion in loans.
In 2022, Vancity became the first Canadian financial institution to set real estate emissions reduction goals. By 2040, the bank aims to be net zero across all loans and mortgages. Vancity offers personal and business banking products like credit cards, loans, checking accounts, savings accounts, transfers, payment services, and more.
Based in: Mexico City and Monterrey, Mexico
Banorte is a banking and financial services holding company in Mexico. It is one of the country’s four largest commercial banks by assets and loans. In 2022, Newsweek and Statista ranked the world’s most socially responsible banks using 2020 corporate responsibility data for 750 banks in 35 countries, as well as customer surveys. Banorte got the highest overall score with high scores in environmental concerns, social concerns, and corporate governance concerns.
In 2021, Banorate was a founding signatory of the Net Zero Banking Alliance. In 2022, the bank founded the UN’s campaign to provide digital bank account access to refugees in Mexico. That same year, it was listed in the 2022 S&P Sustainability Yearbook for its energy use reductions. Available products include accounts, cards, credits, investments, insurance, online banking, and international banking.