community banks. Laslo says the institution has been a strong
corporate citizen since it was founded in 1924. Every year, the
bank tries to increase the size of three items in the budget: Two
of these are salaries and training; the third is charitable contributions. In other words, the bank strives to continuously raise
its volume of annual charitable giving. “This has held true for
A view of the Richland office of the 1st Summit Bank (assets: $730 million), Johnstown,
Pa. The bank is unique in its market because employees have formed their own separate
foundation for charitable giving.
The bank amplifies the goodwill it receives as a result of
having two distinct ways of distributing money
to the community.
Winners of ABA Community
Last year, two banks—Summit State Bank, Santa Rosa,
Calif., and 1st Summit Bank, Johnstown, Pa.—were re-
cipients of ABA Community Bank Awards in the category
of “fundraising for foundations and local groups.”
The award program was renamed this year and will
be known in the future as the ABA Community Com-
mitment Awards. For more information on these awards,
go to www.aba.com/About/Pages/Community-
many years, as far back as I can remember,” says Laslo.
The idea for the foundation came about 15 years ago when
a group of employees suggested creating a special fund for
workers who might be having medical or financial problems.
For example, one employee had to travel frequently for medical
reasons to a distant city—necessitating regular travel expenses
and the need to pay for an overnight hotel room. After some
discussion, the bank helped employees create a foundation whose
main purpose would be to donate money to community “
quality of life” projects, with a secondary aim of helping employees
dealing with hardships. The foundation has a stipulation that
when making a community gift, the foundation’s name must be
permanently attached to the gift. (Thus, when the foundation
donates money for a park bench, the bench has a name plate
attached to it explaining where the gift came from.)
The foundation is run by an employee board of trustees.
Bank workers organize fundraisers and other special events
around the year to bring in money. These events have themes
and are intended to be fun events for employees. In the summer,
there might be a picnic; in the winter there might be a Super
Bowl event. Employees are always thinking of new ways to raise
money for the foundation. One idea involved having employees
pay a premium to receive a limited number of choice parking
spaces at the bank’s main office.
Over the years, the foundation has funded 75 community projects, including park benches at retirement homes
and recreation areas; improvement and/or new equipment for
playgrounds; books for libraries; seats at various performing
arts centers; donations for new construction projects, such as
museums and colleges.
In addition, the foundation has given grants to pay for college books for 67 employees or their children; and 49 employees
have received money in connection with medical or financial
Since its inception, the foundation has raised $83,000 through
contributions from bank staff and officers.
Laslo says the foundation helps to bolster the bank’s corporate culture, which is centered on the idea of being a caring
institution that gives back to the community. It helps employees
to understand that this is the right thing to do, he adds, and it
makes them feel good about making these donations. “It helps
our reputation in the community.” n
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
WALT ALBRO is the editor of ABA Bank Marketing magazine, Washington, D.C. E-mail: Walbro@aba.com