Foundation of Light coach Antony Blackburn delivering a training session to children
Businesses, charities and individuals across the North East are being encouraged to move their savings to an ethical bank.
Charity Bank’s Follow the Money campaign is calling on businesses, charities and individuals to question how their savings are currently being used. It’s asking them to consider whether their money could go beyond simply earning a fair return and be channelled into the social sector to help create lasting social change.
The campaign has seen the Foundation of Light, the official charity of Sunderland AFC, EVA Women's Aid in Teesside and 36 other charities and social enterprises - who have all received loans from Charity Bank - open their doors to showcase how money saved with an ethical provider can have a positive impact on society.
Launched a decade after the global financial crisis, it aims to highlight a different approach to banking and how by saving with an ethical bank, people and organisations can transform their money into a powerful force for good.
It comes as research* published by Charity Bank reveals that 71% of people in the North East think that charities should invest their savings and investments ethically and 53% prefer to buy from businesses that act ethically.
Foundation of Light received a loan of almost £3m in 2018 from Charity Bank to build its new state-of-the-art sports and education centre – the Beacon of Light.
CEO, Lesley Spuhler OBE, talks about the importance of Charity Bank’s loan, empowering them to realise this ambition. She said: “Named the Beacon of Light, the centre opened in September and will be integral to furthering the work we do across the North East. It features five stories of sports halls, football pitches, informal learning spaces and education suites designed to create life-changing opportunities for local people and re-energise our communities.
“We needed a significant amount of funding and Charity Bank has been key to helping us realise this ambition. We wanted to work with Charity Bank because of their ethos and flexibility. They have been so generous with their support, time and understanding and made what is quite a complex process as easy and smooth as possible for us.
“Charity Bank is an ideal partner for us, as they provide a vital business service without compromising on ethics. We want to ensure that, wherever possible, every part of our operation has a positive impact. As consumers, we’ve never had so much information and choice available. You can still get what you need from a financial organisation while also doing something positive for your communities and that’s a very important message.”
Another North East organisation which has benefited from an ethical loan is EVA Women's Aid, a charity which supports women and their families in Teesside, who are, or have been, victims of domestic or sexual abuse and violence.
A loan of £55,000 in 2015 from Charity Bank helped the charity to purchase a new property for use as a specialist safe house for women aged over 45. Charity Bank has recently approved a further loan of £30,000 to help fund the purchase of an additional property which will provide safe accommodation for women.
Chief executive, Richinda Taylor, explains how this enabled them to reach and support more women: “In 2015, we decided to open a specialist safe house for women over 45. These women have different needs to younger victims and often find it more difficult to speak out and seek support. We’ve worked with women aged 80 and over who’ve been subjected to violence and psychological control throughout their adult lives and sadly many believe that there’s no way out. This dedicated safe house has enabled us to raise awareness that there is help available and to support more of these women to break the cycle of abuse.
“We opened the doors on a Monday, were full by the Friday and have remained at 100% capacity ever since. We’ve also seen a huge increase in the numbers of women in that age group coming to seek help. We were only able to achieve this with support from the loan by Charity Bank. “
Charity Bank’s recent survey also shows there is an appetite for a more transparent and socially-minded approach to banking and investment. Further findings for the North East revealed:
Edward Siegel, Charity Bank’s chief executive, said: “It’s easy to dismiss the possibility of achieving a social return as well as a financial return on your investments but saving ethically offers the chance to do both.
“By channelling money into charities, social enterprises and social businesses, your money is used as a force for good. It enables these organisations to grow, innovate and build upon the services and support they provide to their beneficiaries.
“Our research shows that people in the North East are keen to associate themselves with organisations that act ethically. Businesses and charities have the power to make a positive impact on society and improve their brand trust and reputation at the same time.”
Charity Bank is an ethical savings and loans bank owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations. It uses its savers' money to make loans to charities, social enterprises and social purpose organisations.
Follow the Money, now in its 10th year, gives Charity Bank savers the opportunity to see how their money is being used to support charities and social enterprises. This year’s tour, which started at the beginning of September and concluded on October 5th, visited 38 Charity Bank borrowers.
To keep up to date with the Follow the Money tour and support the campaign, visit www.charitybank.org/followthemoney
*An online survey of 4,000 adults across the UK carried out between February and March 2018 by Opinium on behalf of Charity Bank.
Photo credit: Lucy Hunter.
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