Ethical bank? Prove it!

Jul 27, 2016

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Imagine an ethical bank entirely owned by charitable and social purpose organisations. A bank that doesn’t pay bonuses. A bank that wants to help charities and social enterprises thrive. A bank that uses peoples’ savings as a powerful force for good.

Ethical Bank

You can download our Ethical Bank? Prove It! report here

Welcome to banking for good

The word ‘ethical’ is often a prominent buzzword, a lofty claim used without the facts to back it up. In our report we aim to prove that we’re an ethical bank by showing you the evidence: data and stories that demonstrate our impact, the key aspects of our values and the practices that define our approach to banking for good.

You can download our Ethical Bank? Prove It! report or continue reading for a summary of the evidence.

We hope you’ll have a read, tweet and spread the word to raise awareness of ethical banking and encourage even more people to join a community turning finance into a powerful force for good.

What we do

Charity Bank is a savings and loans bank with a mission to use money for good. So when savers deposit with us, we send their money on a mission, only ever lending to organisations that benefit people and planet.

From day one our goal has been to support charities and social enterprises with loans. When we were founded in 2002 we had assets of little more than £6m. Since then we’ve lent more than £150m to charitable organisations, touching the lives of more than one million people from across the UK.


So what practises and safeguards define our approach?

Banking for good is at the heart of our business. For us, doing good isn’t something that sits alongside our activities as a promotional tool, it is the very core of what we do.

1. We’re a bank with a social mission

Charity Bank was founded with a charitable mission to lend money to charities and social enterprises. This mission is written into our articles of association in the form of our charitable objects. We may lend to other organisations where their activities are compatible with our values and social purpose.

2. We’re entirely owned by charitable foundations, trusts and social purpose organisations

We’re run for social purpose organisations and owned by them. Every single one of our shareholders is either a charity or a social purpose organisation.

3. We’re a social enterprise (and the only bank with the Social Enterprise Mark)

We’re the only bank with the Social Enterprise Mark because the money saved with us, invested in us and generated through our loan interest charges is put straight back into supporting the social sector.

4. We measure our impact

We measure social impact to assess organisations looking to borrow and to evaluate our own progress as a bank for good. Impact measurement is at the core of banking for good and a vital tool for us in:

  • Seeing how we’re helping organisations improve and grow.
  • Understanding and tracking our borrowers’ ability to achieve their social missions.
  • Showing our savers and shareholders where their money is going.
  • Understanding what works for our borrowers and making better decisions

5. Our social mission is locked into our activities

The safeguard which stops Charity Bank drifting from its mission is known as a ‘mission-lock’. Our charitable objects cannot be changed unless approved by a special resolution of shareholders holding at least 90% of the total voting rights and following prior consultation with the Charities Aid Foundation.


Know where your money goes and what it’s doing

We lend to charities and social enterprises that are working to make the world a better place. We use our savers’ money to do this, which is why we are committed to transparency.

Loans By Sector

Explore visual data of our social impact from the charities and social enterprises we support here.

We show you where your money goes, featuring data and stories on our website and organising events where people can meet the organisations their savings support. The numbers on the left show the sectors that have benefited as a result of Charity Bank loans.

At our annual Open Meeting and Impact Awards, people can connect with the work of the extraordinary organisations that we support and meet our staff and directors.

So that people can see the impact their savings are having in their communities, we invite people to follow the money they save with us to a local charity or social enterprise that is benefiting from it. Last
autumn, 15 of our borrowers from across the UK opened their doors to local savers.

Where the money goes

In June last year EVA Women's Aid opened the UK’s first safe house specifically for victims of domestic and sexual abuse aged 45 +. This project is one of over 800 supported by a Charity Bank loan.

Inside Charity Bank – internal values

From a non-bonus culture to time-off for volunteering, here are some of the defining aspects of our internal culture, which is underpinned by an aim of nurturing a happy team motivated by our mission.

1. We give staff time off to volunteer

All of our staff can spend 50 of their contracted hours per year volunteering for a charity or community group, as a trustee or in another capacity.

In this way, our staff can contribute their skills and experience for themselves the kinds of issues that our borrowers face on a daily basis.

2. We pay the Living Wage

Charity Bank became a living wage employer back in July 2014.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate of pay which is calculated against the cost of living in the UK. It is monitored independently by the Living Wage Foundation and updated annually so that employees can benefit from pay levels which reflect the true cost of living.

3. We have a non-bonus culture

We are not driven by hard sales targets nor do our banking staff receive bonuses.

4. Our non-executive directors are unpaid

Our non-executive directors play a vital role in Charity Bank’s culture. They are our critical friends and help to manage our growth. They believe in what we do and generously give us their time, knowledge of the social sector, and financial expertise.

Ethical Bank Prove It Low Res

Staff and savers visit Charity Bank borrower Barrowmore. All staff are given the opportunity to visit some of the charities or social enterprises we support. In this way, our staff can gain a deeper understanding of our borrowers and how our loans contribute.

5. We support our local community

We have a staff committee that seeks to support our local community.

Activities include donating to a local food bank, fundraising for good causes, promoting volunteer opportunities, seeking to buy from local and ethical suppliers, and taking part in community and fundraising events.

We recently took part in The Big Sleep Out with staff sleeping outside in cardboard boxes to raise awareness and generate funds to combat homelessness.


What’s in a label? Ethical awards and accreditations

We sought independent certification of our values and ethics from two forms of accreditation, the Social Enterprise Mark and the B Corporation. These help us in our aims to be transparent and to gain the trust of a growing community of savers and borrowers.

We’ve also been placed in a number of ethical league tables, created by independent researchers, which strengthens the evidence behind our ethics.


So we hope you’ll agree: when we say we’re an ethical bank, we mean it.

Tweet, share and spread the word to raise awareness of ethical banking and encourage even more people to join a community turning finance into a powerful force for good.

Click on the buttons below to learn more about Charity Bank, our ethical savings, loans to charities and social enterprises and our impact.