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Case Studies
Confluence Members Discuss Moving Their Cash
For the Swift Foundation, Carrying the Cash was an important component of their mission investing effort.

The Swift Foundation was committed to investing a portion of its endowment in investments that were aligned with its mission. To this end, the Foundation developed a policy to guide the placement of capital in mission-related endeavors with the goal of synchronizing the investing with its mission.They allocated 30% of their investments to Mission Related Investments and transferred approximately $1 million in cash deposits from a leading commercial bank to five different mission related financial institutions.Their financial advisor handled the due diligence and transfer process.

The Board identified three primary mission themes: supporting biological and cultural diversity, addressing climate change, and enhancing the health of communities globally.They invested $250,000 in deposits and CDs with the following institutions, all which support some aspect of the Foundations’ mission.

  • Latino Community Credit Union-A credit union in North Carolina with members that are primarily low-income and or Latino individuals in North Carolina. LCCU’s members are 95% low-income, 95% Hispanic and 75% unbanked.
  • New Resource Bank- This bank serves people who are leading the way to a more sustainable world. Their mission is to advance sustainability and make loans that will put deposits to work for good causes.While not categorized as an CDFI, New Resources’s green focus meshed with part of the Swift Foundations mission.
  • Community Bank of the Bay- CBB is a full service commercial bank, with offices in Oakland, Danville, and San Jose that is state-chartered bank and a member of the FDIC. As a locally owned and operated community bank, CBB invests in communities it serves with deposits remaining within the community, providing loans to local businesses and consumers. CBB boasts local market expertise and broad industry knowledge taking pride in getting to know each of their customers personally.
  • One California Bank (now One PacificCoast Bank)-This bank is an FDIC-insured CDFI that serves businesses, nonprofit organizations, and individuals.The bank is headquartered in Oakland, California with branches in Seattle, Washington, Washington, and Portland, Oregon.
  • GreenChoice Bank-A Chicago based local community bank, with all of the products and services of a larger financial institution. In addition,it has a value-based mission of sustainability that impacts each and every aspect of our Bank’s organization, structure, products, and processes.Furthermore it focuses on the non-profit community offering special services limited fees, and unlimited deposit insurance.

For the Chorus Foundation, the timing of its creation amid the 2008 financial crisis played an initial role in its decision to explore mission-related investing 

Since the majority of Chorus’s founding contributions were made in cash, Chorus Founder and Executive Director Farhad Ebrahimi was able to use this period of economic instability as an opportunity to learn more about investment alternatives and to consider the pursuit of investments that aligned with the organization’s mission of promoting environmental sustainability.

While Ebrahimi and the rest of Chorus’s board of directors were not unhappy with their initial decision to invest the organization’s funds with Fidelity, Ebrahimi felt that this decision had been made mostly by default since his personal funds were also invested there. He decided to pursue one of the more compelling banking options that he had learned about and moved about $5 million of the foundation’s money over to Wainwright Bank & Trust Company, which has since been absorbed by Eastern Bank. Wainwright supported several environmentally sustainable programs, many of which were absorbed by Eastern Bank, which made them a very attractive investment target for Ebrahimi. These programs include:

  • Emphasizing paperless transactions; use of recycled paper products and environmentally friendly inks

  • Energy conservation, including the presence of two LEED-certified branches
  • Discounting home equity loans for energy efficiency retrofits and renewables as well as discounted car loans for hybrid vehicles.
  • Subsidizing employee use of public transportation
  • Refusal to offer drive-through banking so as to discourage bank visits by car

While Ebrahimi admits that the customer service offering of the alternative bank is definitely less than that of a Fidelity, he insists that the difference is nowhere near close to off-setting the benefits of knowing that his money is a part of an institution that promotes the values of his non-profit. The Chorus Foundation may even consider further expanding its alternative banking investments in the future. "Moving your cash doesn’t take much”, Ebrahimi says, "which is part of why it’s definitely worth doing.”