The blog

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Welcome to the Amalgamated blog, a space for leaders and contributers from inside and outside Amalgamated Bank to share thoughts, opinions, and musings about topics relevant to our bank's mission and customers, the financial industry at large, and national and international affairs. Check back in for new content weekly.

 

 

Where do we go from here? Progressive Banking in a New Political Era

NEW YORK, February 2, 2017 — From our vantage point as the leading progressive bank, it feels these days like, as a country, we are not making the progress our great nation is capable of. There is talk of instituting an isolationist foreign policy that will evoke for many memories of the 1930s. Executive actions regarding immigration are sparking protests all over the country in numbers not seen since the 1960s. And a promise to deregulate Wall Street has the potential to create a financial environment eerily similar to that of 2008. As the progressive movement aims to march forward, it seems as if many are eager to return to the failed policies of years past.

These uncertainties, matched with rhetoric urging the distrust of businesses, government and media, have given birth to a large swath of people who no longer have faith in the institutions that have served them for years. The Edelman Trust Barometer reported the largest drop in trust across the board which included financial institutions’ credibility taking a considerable hit. And it’s no wonder why people are wary of banks these days. Recently, we’ve seen banks open fraudulent accounts to improve their numbers; a mishandling of the housing market; and strong lobbying efforts to allow financial institutions to operate in the shadows of regulation.

At Amalgamated Bank, however, we’ve spent the last 94 years shattering that stereotype. We were founded by the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, a union that organized tens of thousands of immigrant workers who cut fabric and toiled at sewing machines. The creation of the Amalgamated Bank was predicated on the belief that workers and their families deserve access to affordable banking and that banking wasn’t a system meant only for corporations and wealthy individuals. So when it comes to being different, we know that doing is more important than saying. That’s why we’ve become a certified B Corporation, a distinction we earned after being evaluated under rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency; we’ve joined the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, a network of banking leaders from around the world committed to advancing positive change in the banking sector; and we’ve invested in addressing the issues you care about, like divesting from fossil fuels, creating tobacco and carbon free investment funds and raising our own minimum wage to $15.

In these uncertain times, you not only need reassurance that your money is safe, but you want to know that it is doing the right thing. Amalgamated Bank has grown from a predominately union bank to serve non-profits, foundations, socially responsible businesses and progressive candidates, campaigns and individuals working to change the world. It is because we are cut from the same cloth and believe in these organizations that we are able to take a chance on the startup that cares as much about its mission as it does about its profits; or the non-profit that doesn’t measure success in dollars and cents but by the number of lives it has impacted. We work round the clock hours and go the extra yard for them because these are the people that are making the world a better place in which to live.

With an eye to the future, we continue to roll out new products and initiatives that create more opportunity for our customers while staying true to our progressive values. We’ve developed special lines of credit for homeowners that enable them to finance the installation of solar panels and go green; we launched our Affinity Give-Back Online Savings account so, as customers’ accounts earn interest, Amalgamated Bank donates an amount equal to half of that interest to a participating charitable organization; and, to ensure that police officers, firefighters and teachers can remain in the communities where they work, we’ve established a new investment fund that will provide real affordable workforce housing for middle income earners. At Amalgamated, your money can be just as active as you are.

While we ride out whatever turbulent waters lie ahead, we want you to know that we're here to help you navigate them. Our mission has and always will be to help those who do good, do better.

 

Challenges and Opportunities For Nonprofits in 2017

NEW YORK, January 24, 2017 — Without question, nonprofits are essential to the delivery of healthcare and other critical human services, including education, housing development and the expansion of arts and culture both domestically and internationally. But since the 2016 election, the President-Elect and the 115th Congress have clearly signaled the next four years will be a time of uncertainty for these critical support networks, with a real potential for nonprofit organizations to be left with little or even no federal support.

The Challenges

At Amalgamated Bank, we stand ready to serve as a partner to your organization, helping you meet the demands of your mission without compromising the integrity of your operation, and with a constant and mindful eye on your fiscal outlook.

As a progressive banking institution, it is our privilege and responsibility to support organizations at the front lines of the fight for social justice and economic fairness. That means providing affordable and accessible banking services, and it also means being a trusted advisor who helps to solve challenges through services that help to ensure effective treasury management. Our approach is designed to help you:

• Manage cash flow more efficiently through Amalgamated Online Treasury Management, which integrates centralized account management, checking, cash management services, remote deposit, ACH and wire transfers, security through fraud monitoring and lockboxes; and,

• Maximize your impact through in-house investment management that provide a comprehensive investment platform and customized managed accounts.

The resiliency of the nonprofit sector is unquestionable. According to a report from the Urban Institute, from 2004- 2008, 4.2% of nonprofit organization across the country closed their doors. Meanwhile, from 2008-2012, at the heart of the Great Recession, just 5.1% of nonprofit organizations closed. We know you’ve experienced hard times before, and that the nonprofit sector is strong enough to weather a storm. But the most critical decisions about how and when to spend your funding, and how to get the most impact out of every dollar, can mean the difference between meeting clients’ needs or leaving critical gaps in your programming.

We recognize the challenge of maintaining consistent growth and financial stability between your fundraising and cash flow cycles, and offer critical bridge capital and credit services to help you weather those periods without sacrificing growth or momentum.

Amalgamated Bank’s Work in Action

Since 2013 Amalgamated has grown its relationship with Demos, a public policy organization that strives to help all Americans “have equal say in our democracy and an equal opportunity in our economy”. To accomplish this mission, Demos creates original research, engages in advocacy, files litigation, and utilizes strategic communications.

What began as a treasury management relationship between Amalgamated and Demos eventually evolved to providing multiple credit products, which helped to support the organization’s growth and allowed it to ensure smooth cash flows through fundraising cycles. It has also helped them to make operation changes to expand their operations and ultimately service more citizens. As the organization shifted facilities this year, we helped to backstop their existing security obligations.

Marching Towards Justice: Why Participating In Our Democracy Matters

NEW YORK, January 22, 2017 — Last week, our government once again changed hands, ending a chapter — and starting another — of great uncertainty and tension for America. Since the election, there have been countless protests across the country, with millions of Americans struggling to deal with the new challenges unfolding before them.

As the largest progressive bank in the country, we are recommitting ourselves to helping preserve and uphold our democracy, and to making sure that all Americans — regardless of who they are, who they love, where they worship, their gender or their race — are able to access the American Dream. This is the dream that envisions hard working Americans being able to support their families with a living wage, women being able to access the reproductive health care they need, young families being able to purchase an affordable home and pay for college, and ultimately, all Americans feeling like their voices matter.

Over the past several months, we’ve learned our democracy only works when we show up, when we speak out, and when we exercise the awesome responsibility of our citizenship. This is why we supported the Women’s March that took place in Washington, D.C. and various cities around the country on Saturday. As the president of a bank, I’d be the first to tell you that numbers matter — numbers like the millions of women and progressive allies who turned out on Saturday to support forward-thinking and pro-equality policy for women’s health and reproductive rights, employment equality and more.

During her time as First Lady, Secretary Clinton once said, “women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” It was the first time anyone had uttered that phrase — equating the rights of women with human rights. Since then we have watched as women have made incredible strides in the work place, with access to healthcare and more. But there is still much work to be done. While women are in the workforce in large numbers, they still don’t receive equal pay for equal work. States have begun to roll back access to abortion so much so that there is only one clinic is available in some states, and childcare needs are dramatically underserved.

We must turn the momentum of this vital march into a movement that protects and values the lives of all women across the country. Like all Americans that found themselves shaken when they awoke to a new reality on November 9, we are dedicated to using our platform to advance the greater good. We want to provide our customers not only with the best banking services possible, but with a bank that shares their values and allows them to bank for a purpose.

Now more than ever, we all need to put our resources to work for the greater good. There are always actions to be taken to exercise our rights and support initiatives and businesses that share our values. As Senator Booker said just recently, “The arc of the moral universe does not just naturally curve toward justice; we must bend it.”