Friends General Conference

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Moving MMM to More Values-Aligned Banking

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By Theresa Deibele (Treasurer)


At the August 2021 Meeting for Worship for Business, Meeting approved a Finance Committee recommendation that we move our banking operations. Since that time, folks have approached to say they are considering switching banks for personal or business purposes, and asked to hear more about our discernment process. I’ll try to capture the process here. 

Many years ago, MMM banked with Columbia Bank, and we were unhappy with the service.  We took the time to change our banking to Pacific Continental, only to then have Pacific Continental merge into Columbia Bank soon thereafter. Alas, we were back with Columbia. And, since the process of switching is quite cumbersome, we stayed. 

In a Spring 2021 threshing session, people in the congregation suggested Meeting look to move to a Black-owned bank and it prompted us to take another look at moving our banking business. Over the summer of 2021, then, Finance dug in and researched banking options. 

Discerning Our Banking Options 

We identified some criteria to consider:  

  • Do they offer the services and features we need? These included electronic ACH payments, online banking, credit card, and other savings or money market options. This was the single most important factor. If they didn’t offer the business features we needed, we would not move forward. 
  • How many locations do they have, and would they be accessible to people who might serve on the treasury team? This was also important, since MMM’s treasurer, assistant treasurer, hearthkeeper and others live all around the City and we needed convenient options.  This would not likely be a factor for someone considering their personal banking, but it was very important for a mostly volunteer operation. 
  • Are there options to bank with a BIPOC-owned bank? We looked closely at the ownership structure to understand the bank leadership and ownership structure. It was quickly apparent that Oregon had no Black-owned banks chartered here, except for OneUnited, an online bank. Since we needed to make cash deposits and other in person actions, the online bank didn’t feel like a viable choice. 
  • How does the bank serve low income communities? Some banks and credit unions are accredited for serving low-income communities, which is important because they are evaluated on how they serve the needs of those who are neglected by traditional banks. 
  • What types of lending does it do? In researching, we wanted to choose a bank that supported wealth building opportunities with its customers. That meant it would lend for small businesses or home purchases as opposed to just consumer loans (for cars or credit cards).
  • How involved are they in local community affairs?  A community-focused bank would be more involved in supporting local events, nonprofits, scholarships and social justice causes in our area.   
  • How do they demonstrate a commitment to be an anti-racist organziation? Even more important, we wanted to see a clear commitment to racial justice in how the bank connects with community, the causes they support, and affirmative steps to be an anti-racist organization. 
  • How are they accountable to community? It was important to see local ownership and local board members that reflect the community demographics. Both of those factors support more community accountability. 


We found the website Better Banking Options to be a helpful resource. It’s purpose is to “bring capital into neighborhoods neglected by traditional banking” and it has all kinds of filters to find the banking options that align with your criteria.  

Narrowing the List

After identifying our criteria, Finance committee members narrowed the list of possibilities and gathered information from one bank and three credit unions: Beneficial State BankAdvantis Credit UnionOnPoint Credit Union and Consolidated Community Credit Union. Pretty quickly, two options–OnPoint Credit Union and Beneficial State Bank– rose to the top because they were large enough to offer the services we needed, had multiple branches and demonstrated commitment to racial equity and social justice. 

Beneficial State Bank. We really liked Beneficial’s strong commitment to environmental issues. It only funds clean, renewable energy and will not fund coal, oil, gas or other dirty energy” businesses. Beneficial also set “mission targets: where at least 75% of both loans and loan dollars impact endeavors, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals who are producing sustainable and socially just goods and services. The other 25% of lending cannot do harm or undermine the bank’s mission. And it publishes third-party audited, data-driven metrics as evidenced by itsAnnual Impact Reports.  On the other hand, the ownership structure was a challenge for us. Beneficial was started by Tom Steyer and Kat Taylor, and she continues to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors. It also has an unusual structure, where it is a for-profit bank owned by the nonprofit Beneficial State Foundation. And because Beneficial serves the West Coast, it was less clear how connected they were to local community efforts. 

OnPoint Credit Union. OnPoint started as teachers' credit union back in 1932 and now has 458,000 members, making it the largest (nonprofit) credit union in the state. It definitely had all the services we needed and had more branches (28) around the metro area to be close to all our current and future volunteers. We also liked OnPoint’s strong community giving program, where its donation program focuses on diversity, equity and inclusion, education, climate change, and services for vulnerable groups of people. We were less impressed by the lack of diversity in OnPoint’s leadership team, though there was more diversity present on the board of directors. And OnPoint appears early in its steps to address racial justice. In the end, we saw OnPoint with more transparency around its community impact and values (as shown in this 2020 Impact Report) and made the recommendation that Meeting move its banking there. It was helpful to know that NPYM also moved its banking to OnPoint. 

We hope that explains more of our process, and perhaps will spur you to consider how your own banking (business or personal) might be better aligned with your values. The discernment process  is messy and takes time, but we also found it to be meaningful. 

A final note: Our decision to move banks was very timely. Columbia Bank is now merging with Umpqua Bank and will have a combined $50 billion in assets. The merged bank has already announced it intends to grow and expand into the Southwest. We feel this focus on growth will mean less focus on community, local lending and support, or economic justice. Yet another reason to be moving away from Columbia Bank.