To put it simply, credit unions don’t exist to make money—they exist to help people. At Verity, that core belief informs everything we do. In good times and in tough, we’re here for you.
In 2019 we pushed ourselves to engage with our communities more than ever before.
Helping our neighbors, one at a time
When longtime member Linda L. reached out to Verity to refinance her personal loan again, she was scared about losing her home. The 30-year member lives on limited retirement income and had gotten a few years behind on property taxes.
During a conversation with a Verity loan officer, Andrea, about stretching out her personal loan payments, she shared the fact her house would be foreclosed on soon if she didn’t get caught up on property taxes. Rather than focus on the request Linda made to refinance her personal loan, Andrea dug in to her situation to see how Verity could help her keep her home and get set up on more solid financial footing.
Andrea made some calls on Linda’s behalf and learned Linda qualified for reduced property taxes. The two of them worked together to fill out paperwork, and then Andrea submitted it on Linda’s behalf because the retiree doesn’t have easy access to technology.
But Linda’s story doesn’t stop there. Andrea put into motion the rest of the Verity team. Verity’s personal financial coach, Member Solutions department, and loan officers from our mortgage partner, Credit Union Home Mortgage Solutions (CUHMS), gathered together and brainstormed what they could do to help Linda. Linda didn’t have a traditional mortgage on the home, but she did have a second mortgage with Verity and liens against her house. It was decided a modified mortgage refinance would be the most beneficial, allowing Linda to wrap in some other debt and reduce her monthly expenses.
Creating unique tools for small nonprofits
Business banking for small nonprofit organizations can be a daunting experience. Many times, it’s difficult to find a single financial institution that has all of the complex accounts and loans needed to run a small nonprofit organization at a reasonable price point and with flexibility that works for their sometimes unusual structure. Frequently, accounts and loans are spread across many banks or credit unions, each with different account rules and restrictions, making it hard to efficiently manage the financial side of a community-oriented organization.
This is exactly the situation one local nonprofit, The Bureau of Fearless Ideas (BFI), found itself in. The organization, which empowers youth aged 6-18 to be the authors of their own future through creative writing and storytelling, had accumulated accounts at three separate financial institutions in order to meet its financial needs. The situation became untenable and frustrating, navigating the different fees and minimum balance requirements on the accounts. In one instance, the organization had a large amount of money but was unable to use it due to a minimum balance requirement at one financial institution to keep the accounts open and avoid large monthly service fees.
Verity offered all the products and services BFI needed, without the monthly service fees, without the balance requirements, without the hassle ...
In stepped Verity, with their lineup of nonprofit accounts and local, community-centric branches. Verity offered all the products and services BFI needed, without the monthly service fees, without the balance requirements, without the hassle of having a financial institution that doesn’t understand your needs and what it’s like to truly be part of a local community. The transition to Verity was easy, quick, and painless, and BFI is in a better financial position simply by switching to a local credit union. This allows the Greenwood-based nonprofit to focus efforts on what it does best: empowering students through afterschool tutoring programs, in-class field trips, classroom visits to the center, and workshops focusing on everything from songwriting to comic book creation.
But Verity didn’t stop there. Throughout their life as an organization, BFI was interested in opening a line of credit to help smooth out the monthly up and down of a nonprofit organization that relies on donations and grants to prosper and grow. After approaching their previous financial institutions, BFI was advised not to apply for a line of credit without having significant collateral available, which is something many smaller nonprofits don’t have readily available.
Small business is our business
Vibrant communities feature thriving small businesses. Historically, it has been difficult for women- and minority-owned businesses to get the proper financing they need to get started. This is where Verity and local organization Business Impact NW are filling a need.
Business Impact NW defines itself as an economic development organization whose mission is to assist small businesses in underserved communities on their path to success. The nonprofit provides advice, training, and access to equitable small business loans. The capital for their loans is provided by multiple Seattle-area credit unions, including Verity.
But, Verity’s relationship with Business Impact NW extends beyond simply supplying capital. One service that Business Impact NW offers to all aspiring, new, and established business owners is one-on-one business coaching. Verity’s Chief Lending Officer Tina Narron participated as a business coach in 2019, assisting folks from multiple backgrounds and industries in developing their businesses. Sometimes mentees wanted guidance on banking and bookkeeping, other times they were curious about FICO scores or tax procedures. Tina's role was to act as a sounding board, leveraging her experience to help her mentees with problems great and small.
Committing to limit climate change
Verity has long been a proponent of environmental stewardship, with loans for eco-friendly cars, solar panels, and bicycles; buildings with LEED certification; strong recycling and composting programs; and electric vehicle charging stations.
But in March 2019, Verity took a stronger, global stand for the environment by signing the Climate Change Commitment. Following the Global Alliance for Banking on Values Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, a group of financial institutions, including Verity, committed to measuring the carbon footprint of our entire loan and investment portfolio within three years.
Verity is on track to fulfill our end of the Climate Change Commitment by 2021. Global Alliance for Banking on Values leaders have worked tirelessly to adopt a climate measurement methodology known as the Platform for Carbon Accounting Financials (PCAF), which will be used to calculate the greenhouse gas emissions of all of our loans and investments.