By Laura Dehmer – KeyBank Capital Region Director of Community Engagement
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This philosophy runs deep at KeyBank, where we find our truest selves in the service of our local communities.
In fact, KeyBank was recently recognized by Points of Light as one of America’s 50 most community-minded companies—for the ninth consecutive time. The Civic 50 provides 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.
While this kind of recognition is nice, our reasons for committing ourselves to our local communities have nothing to do with the accolades or attention we get for it. We give generously of our time, talents and money because successful relationships between businesses and nonprofits are the key to building successful communities. We give back because it’s the right thing to do, and to be honest, we do it because it feels amazing to do even a small part to contribute to the greater good.
But giving back doesn’t always look like big companies writing out big checks. It takes all of us – large companies, small businesses, individuals and selfless nonprofit organizations – to help our most underserved and vulnerable populations overcome the challenges that have been set before them and to build thriving, engaged communities where we all want to live, play and work.
Small businesses, mid-sized businesses, and even families and individuals have an important role to play in community giving. Determining the best way to make the biggest impact can seem daunting – but it doesn’t have to be.
Narrow Your Focus
Deciding where, when and how to give is the first step toward meaningful giving. It’s important to determine a giving strategy, and ideally one with your employees’ interests in mind. Uncovering what is meaningful to them, whether through casual conversations or more formal surveying, is an effective way to engage them in the process and start to prioritize.
The KeyBank Foundation has identified three “pillars” of giving: neighbors, education and the workforce. Start by developing your own pillars. Determine what’s important to you, to your employees and the culture of your organization, and build your giving strategy around those causes.
Give in Ways that Work for You
While every nonprofit needs funding to survive, there are many ways to give back that don’t involve making a financial commitment. Volunteering time for a specific cause is equally valuable and provides a meaningful way for your employees to put their abilities to use.
Serving on nonprofit boards or committees is another important way to contribute. The valuable donation of time gives nonprofit organizations access to highly qualified leaders, while fostering an “external” focus within companies, enabling staff members to concentrate on more than just their job, but rather on the diverse issues and challenges in our communities.
Feel Good About Giving
While there are definitely business benefits to corporate philanthropy, the most significant benefits of giving back are intrinsic. It feels good. It brings people together. And at the end of the day, it helps build stronger, better communities in which we can live our lives and raise our families.
If you’ve been contemplating how to give back, I hope you’ll take the leap. It’s ok to start small, just start. Because every little bit counts.
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: Laura Dehmer is KeyBank Capital Region market director of community engagement. She can be reached at 518-257-8427 or [email protected].
Any opinions, projections, or recommendations contained herein are subject to change without notice. This material is presented for informational purposes only and should not be construed as individual tax or financial advice. KeyBank does not provide legal advice. All credit products are subject to collateral and/or credit approval, terms, conditions, availability and are subject to change.
KeyBank’s National Community Benefits Plan
KeyBank 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