By Frances O’Rourke, KeyBank Capital Region Market President
A KeyBank colleague once said: “Communities are like three-legged stools. To be strong, they need the public, private and nonprofit sectors working toward the common goal of building a foundation for a high quality of life and sustainable economic progress.”
I always liked the image, and it came to mind after hearing news that KeyBank was recognized by Points of Light as one of America’s 50 most community-minded companies—for the ninth consecutive time.
For 10 years, The Civic 50 has provided a national standard for corporate citizenship and showcases how companies can use their time, skills, and resources to drive social impact in their communities and company. The Civic 50 honorees are companies with annual U.S. revenues of at least $1 billion and are selected based on four dimensions of their corporate citizenship and social impact programs – investment of resources, integration across business functions, institutionalization through policies, and systems, and impact measurement.
However, to make a difference in the community, organizations like Key rely on partners in the community. Throughout New York, and especially the Capital Region, we not only have these partners, but they are both plentiful and impactful.
According to the Office of the New York State Comptroller, New York leads the nation for nonprofit jobs. In addition, the nonprofit sector accounts for nearly 20 percent of private employment in the state, with wages totaling close to $78 billion…with an average salary of $55,572, eighth in the nation.
As valuable as nonprofits are, they often rely on critical funding from federal, state, and local governments, as well as private contributors—including corporations. And this is where the size of our nonprofit sector becomes a weakness. Many nonprofits with indistinguishable missions are competing for a finite pool of funds. For corporations committed to reinvesting in the community, this presents a major challenge. How do we support each of the communities we serve in a meaningful way and still be equitable?
There is no easy answer. If we spread out our giving it minimizes the impact of each individual gift. If we give for impact, it minimizes our reach.
The truth is, in the nonprofit sector there are many great programs and initiatives that begin with promise but ultimately fail to reach their full potential due to lack of funding and support. In part, this is an organizational problem. Systems and accountabilities are sometimes lacking. Other times, the funds needed to transition ideas into sustainable, difference-making actions just aren’t available. This is why collaboration and cooperation are critical—not just between sectors but also within sectors because when nonprofits compete, it is not just a nonprofit that will ultimately lose. The people it serves will lose as well.
What does this cooperative effort look like? For starters, it begins with communication and collaboration—nonprofits reaching out to each other to discuss how they can maximize the funding that is available within the market. Sometimes, this means merging competing nonprofits. More often than not it means identifying opportunities for partnership and developing joint programs that serve the missions of the nonprofits involved.
Ultimately, the idea of the three-legged stool is for all sectors within a community to work together, both internally and externally, because the strength of a community and the success of its businesses, nonprofits, and people are interwoven. Therefore, it is in the best interests of businesses to take an active role in how communities are shaped and to support events that add to a region’s cultural vibrancy.
It is also in the interests of nonprofits to make it easier for businesses to support them. When an area thrives, when communities are filled with people who can support themselves through meaningful work and then wisely manage what they earn, everyone wins. More specifically:
- Individuals reach their full potential.
- Families thrive.
- Communities become more attractive to both business and the workforce, which drives a strong economic engine.
Of course, businesses like KeyBank share part of this responsibility. Part of a corporation’s ability to live up to its giving initiative depends upon its commitment to become a community partner. It demands we get to know the needs of the community by working closely with the people who best understand what those needs are—regional civic and nonprofit leaders.
In the end, building toward a brighter future does not happen alone. Community building is not the result of a single company or program. It’s about cooperation and partnership—the public and private sectors working together to create and execute a plan to achieve a common purpose. When it happens, the result is amazing. Lives are changed and regions are transformed. More importantly, people are inspired to action. They willingly and passionately donate money and volunteer their time in hopes of making a difference, and this value is immeasurable. It is what makes a community “home.”
For more information about Key’s community investment or opportunities for collaboration, please contact Tamika Otis, KeyBank’s Capital Region Corporate Responsibility Officer at [email protected] or Laura Dehmer, KeyBank’s Capital Region Director of Community Engagement at [email protected].
About the author: Frances O’Rourke is president of KeyBank’s Capital Region Market and serves as Regional Executive for Key Private Bank. She can be reached at 518-257-8733 or [email protected].
KeyBank’s National Community Benefits Plan
KeyBank recently announced it has surpassed the five-year goals of its National Community Benefits Plan. Through the Plan, Key has provided more than $26 billion focused on economic access and equity since 2017. The scope of these investments and lending include affordable housing, home lending, small business lending, and transformative philanthropy targeted toward workforce development, education, and safe, vital neighborhoods for underserved communities and populations.
Since 2017, KeyBank has invested more than $1.014 billion in the Capital Region Market through the plan. This includes investments made through December 31, 2021:
- More than $636 million in affordable housing and community development projects
- More than $160 million in small business loans to businesses that are part of low- and-moderate income communities
- More than $214 million in mortgage lending to low- and moderate-income communities
- More than $5.4 million in transformational philanthropic investments in neighborhoods in the Capital Region
KeyBank’s 2021 ESG Report can be found at key.com/ESG. It highlights Key’s progress as a responsible bank and corporate citizen, including across the four ESG priorities of: climate stewardship; financial inclusion; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and data privacy and security.
Key leverages its expertise, relationships, market influence, and resources to help address the pressing challenge of climate change. The 2021 ESG Report details for the first time, Key’s new multi-year commitments around climate stewardship, including:
- Sustainable finance: Key will finance or facilitate $38 billion to address climate change and support green initiatives by year-end 2026.
- Carbon neutral operations: Achieve carbon neutral operations across Key’s scope 1 direct emissions and scope 2 indirect emissions by year-end 2030.
- Financed emissions: Key will join the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials and complete the necessary measurement and evaluation of scope 3 financed emissions
Other notable progress includes:
- KeyCorp’s Board of Directors is 46% diverse, and 70% of its external hires in 2021 were diverse. In 2021, KeyBank publicly committed to increasing people of color representation in its senior leadership ranks by 25% by 2025, and 50% by 2030. As of year-end 2021, Key is ahead of pace to achieve its goals.
- KeyBanc Capital Markets® (KBCM) is a leader in renewable energy investments in the U.S. and provides services to clean technology firms in the power generation, smart grid, energy management, and pollution control sectors. From 2018 through 2021, Key ranked as the number #1 North American renewable energy project finance lender in terms of both the number and dollar volume of deals executed (based on data compiled by Dealogic for North American wind, solar, and battery storage deals).
- Key continues to reduce its environmental footprint, with a 30.8% reduction in scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2016 baseline.
- In 2021, Key invested $5.1 billion in community development and affordable housing projects nationwide and was named the #2 affordable housing lender in the country.
- As a digitally progressive bank, Key is continuously investing in and improving its information security and privacy programs, policies, and processes. Keeping the personal and financial information of clients and teammates protected and secure is a critical priority for Key.