6 Seasonal Ways Community Banks & Credit Unions Can Leverage ‘Local’

Every year when Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around, local businesses and nonprofits across the U.S. hope that people will choose to shop, buy, and give local instead of throwing all their attention — and money! — at the megamarts and big-box national chains.

Community banks and credit unions have unique opportunities to help encourage consumers shop at local stores and give to local charities. Retail community bankers interact with local business owners, nonprofits and civic leaders every day. They know who’s on the fast track and who needs help. This holiday season, marketers at community-based institutions can put that knowledge to work to support the “Keep It Local” mission.

Here are six ways your financial institution can encourage the local mindset this holiday season:

1. Highlight local businesses in your marketing efforts

Feature your business clients in your ads, billboards, social media efforts, on your website, and in other media placements. Highlight the small businesses, restaurants, shops, and cultural venues that make your city or town unique. In doing so, you call attention to and demonstrate your support for local business and the local economy. Of course, you should keep your branding in the ads so people connect the support with your financial institution.

2. Implement a mobile discount program supporting local businesses

Consumers in your area are already frequenting local car dealerships, restaurants, gyms, theaters, cafes, and bookstores. Why not reward and incentivize their local purchases? How? By offering a mobile discount program to your clients. They don’t need to carry a special card or remember to check in on a website to redeem rewards. Instead, when they are near a participating local business, they will get a smartphone alert that says, “Get a 33% discount at Carl’s Carwash on behalf of Main Street Savings.” Then they’ll simply pay with your financial institution credit/debit card to get the discount (bringing you the added benefit of additional card swipes).

3. Encourage giving local

Credit unions and community banks enjoy a reputation as consistently strong supporters of local charities. Here are some fresh ideas to amplify that message.

  • Host a “12 Days of Giving” campaign. Each day your institution could raise funds for a different local charity, with your bank or credit union providing matching funds.
  • You could coordinate a “matching program” to help nonprofits find volunteers and in-kind donations to meet their needs.
  • Use your social media channels to build awareness for a local charity to support its efforts and events.
  • Run a social media giving contest that benefits local nonprofits and engages your community. Look for “cause marketing” apps and tools like CafeGive.com that help you engage supporters around local causes and make contests quick and easy to implement. Bank of Ann Arbor has enjoyed much success with their social media giving campaigns.

( Read More: Christmas for Financial Marketers )

4. Play matchmaker between local businesses and nonprofits

Many local businesses want to reach out during the holidays but are not sure where or how to do it. Your financial institution could be the matchmakers connecting businesses and nonprofits that share similar interests or goals. For example, Realtors might love to team up with a nonprofit that provides shelter or transitional housing; or a children’s clothing store might want to donate to an after-school mentoring program. Leverage your knowledge of the community to make connections. You could host a nonprofit fair to introduce local businesses to organizations that need their support, or your commercial lenders could make personal introductions between business owners and nonprofits.

5. Encourage your employees to shop local

Invite local merchants to promote sales and special offers to your employees. Promote local deals in your break rooms, and feature merchants in your lobbies. Host a “cash mob” at local businesses where each employee is given $5-10 of bank money to spend. Citizens Bank of Edmond, OK has done this well. Publicize your efforts on social media and get lots of photos.

6. Lend a helping hand.

There’s a beautiful saying – “Volunteers are love in motion.” By volunteering together, your employees, clients, and their families can make a huge difference in the lives of those in need in your community during the holidays (and any time of year for that matter). hen people work together for a common cause, their efforts strengthen interpersonal relationships, build connection with your institution, and improve the quality of life in your town or city. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”


Andrew Bank is Co-Founder of Larky, a mobile loyalty platform that drives acquisition, retention, wallet share, and interchange revenue. To learn more about Larky, visit www.larky.com/creditunions, or email us at hello@larky.com. You can also follow Larky on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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