Fairview Elementary, funding T-shirts for
certain events, extra gym shirts for students,
and turkeys for families during the holidays.
“We’re proud to support organizations that
help our most vulnerable neighbors and those
that help our communities grow,” Bender says.
Northrim strives to support organizations
holistically. Many of its more than 300 employees serve on boards and committees as
well as volunteer at the same organizations
that receive financial donations from the
bank. “We want to do more than hand a check
over once a year,” she says.
Employees are paid for the time they spend
volunteering during business hours for a bank-
supported event. “Employees are encouraged
to volunteer at events that are near and dear
to their hearts,” Bender explains. “We try to
be very flexible with our employees, so they
are able to volunteer at organizations that are
meaningful for them.”
Northrim encourages its employees to
suggest community service projects that
personally interest them. Junior Achievement
is a favorite nonprofit for many employees. So
is NeighborWorks Alaska. “We always have
one or two teams for their Paint the Town
program,” Bender says.
Northrim Bank also prioritizes participating
in professional industry organizations, such
as chambers of commerce, economic devel-
opment groups, the Resource Development
Council, and the Alaska Support Industry
Alliance. “These are organizations that our
customers are part of,” Bender explains.
“These are organizations and industries that
drive our economy, so it’s important for us to
be engaged in them as well.”
When choosing organizations to support,
Northrim considers two basic groups: charitable
organizations and business entities. Each year,
the organization is required to submit a request
for funding for the upcoming year. Bender says:
“We really look at what they’re asking for and
what the need is. We also look at whether
there has been strong engagement with this
organization in the past and if there are
opportunities for our employees to be involved.
If there is a strong match for our focus areas,
we are likely able to fund the request.”
In 2017, Northrim contributed more than
$572,000 to Alaska organizations, and its
employees provided 2,064 volunteer hours.
Over the last five years, the bank has donated
$3.3 million, and it has contributed $9.6 million
during its twenty seven-plus years of existence.
“To put this into perspective,” Bender says,
“when the bank was founded, we had an initial
capital of over $8 million. So we’ve given back to
the community more than we had in our initial
“We are members of our community just
as our customers are,” she says. “We believe a
strong community is good for everyone, and
we are proud to be a part of our community
and we help wherever we can.”
Corporate citizenship and philanthropy are
essential to Wells Fargo. As a national
company, Wells Fargo is able to leverage
multiple initiatives and pools of funding for
communities across the country. In every
state, Wells Fargo conducts a community
needs assessment that involves surveying
nonprofits statewide. “We ask the ones who
are in the field doing the work what they
see that the community needs,” says Alaska
Community Relations Manager Judith
Crotty. “We distill that information and come
up with local market priorities. In Alaska, that
helps us drive where we invest.”
Wells Fargo’s local market priorities in
Alaska focus on investing in affordable housing,
homelessness, education, workforce develop-
ment, and promoting healthy communities,
which entails ensuring access to food, affordable
healthcare, day care, and other necessities.
“When we are looking at our strategic
giving, we have a lens of empowering our low-
to moderate-income and underserved com-
munity,” she says.
Affordable housing is generally a need
across all communities in Alaska, Crotty
says. For military veteran Luke Connally and
his wife, Mary, that need was met when they
received a house as a mortgage-free donation.
The home, located in Palmer, was donated in
June through the partnership of Wells Fargo
and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
Since 2012, Wells Fargo has donated more than
350 homes, valued at more than $55 million, to
veterans in all fifty states.
In 2017, Wells Fargo invested $1.3 million
through donations and sponsorships to support
hundreds of nonprofit organizations in Alaska.
The bank’s 700 team members in Alaska also
volunteered a record 13,000 hours with nonprofits, schools, and community organizations
and personally donated $242,000 through
the company’s annual Community Support
Campaign last September.
Wells Fargo serves as a “cornerstone”
investor for many organizations, providing
generous and long-term funding. It has
been investing in a number of organizations
for five or ten years, including Food Bank
of Alaska, Covenant House Alaska, Cook
Inlet Tribal Council, and the University
of Alaska Fairbanks Rural Alaska Honors
Institute. The bank also engages in place-based
philanthropy. For example, in its ten years
of investing in Anchorage’s Mountain View
neighborhood, Wells Fargo has provided
approximately $70 million to $80 million in
donations and tax credit investments, Crotty
Volunteerism, Crotty says, is extremely
important to Wells Fargo. Every team member
who works full time can receive sixteen hours
of paid time off to volunteer. “That’s a huge
commitment of Wells Fargo, underscoring
the importance of having our team members
engaged in areas where they are passionate,” she
says. “When you have team members engaged
outside the company, they are more apt to be
Nationally, Wells Fargo donated $286.5
million to more than 14,500 nonprofits in 2017.
Team members across the company volunteered
2 million hours last year, including 183,528
hours of service on 3,679 nonprofit boards. And
Wells Fargo has plans to increase its corporate
giving. The company has vowed to give $400
million in cash to nonprofits in 2018, repre-
senting a 40 percent potential increase in its
corporate philanthropy compared to last year.
And starting in 2019, the bank is planning
to spend 2 percent of its after-tax dollars on
corporate philanthropy. R
Tracy Barbour has been an Alaska
Business contributor since 1999. As a
former Alaskan, she is uniquely positioned
to offer in-depth insight and enjoys
writing about a variety of topics.
Luke and Mary Connally receive a new home near downtown Palmer thanks to a mortgage-free donation resulting from a partnership between Wells Fargo and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.