ATB wants to revolutionize banking for your arts-focused non-profit
By Lizzie Derksen 16 April 2019 2 min read
At ATB, we love artists.
In fact, we opened The Branch for Arts and Culture just so we can connect with artists in their natural environment, and get to know them and serve them better. But what about the organizations that have been doing that all along?
A crucial part of supporting the arts in Alberta is making sure the non-profits (some of them decades-old!) that are already established to champion artists are able to manage their finances in a sustainable, understandable and proactive way.
Financing the arts
Because our bankers are artists themselves, they--like you--are used to wearing multiple hats. And they have a personal understanding of what it means to be waiting on a grant, and what it means to operate on a shoe-string budget.
This understanding enables them to advocate on behalf of your organization for more substantial loans, lines of credit and other sources of financing. Our access-to-lending program for non-profits reduces or eliminates the need to put up cash securities (basically, collateral) on products like LOCs and credit cards. We look at a more comprehensive picture of your organization, based in part on the length of time it’s been around.
Isabelle Hebert, a stage manager and cultural banker at The Branch, explains: “Many other banks will only consider lending to a non-profit with 100 per cent cash security. Our lending model brings that down to 25 per cent with societies over 10 years old. Of course we still need to vet their financials to make that happen.”
And banking with The Branch is board-friendly. Organizations can sign up for dual signing authorization via a mobile app, so board members can remotely approve transactions.
Putting our money where our mouth is
We’re also committed to partnering with arts non-profits in less traditional (but more fun?) ways like hosting events--from movie screenings and gallery shows to award ceremonies and annual general meetings.
Banking as a non-profit comes with a set of challenges all its own. You operate like a business but it’s not your goal to make a pile of money. You deal with large sums in the form of grants, donations and other modes of income, but your cash flow often isn’t super consistent. You represent a group of people who aren’t your stakeholders--though they do hold stakes in the very important work your organization is doing.
Sometimes banks just don’t get it. That’s why The Branch wants to do everything we can to change the way banking works for arts organizations--we want to make it more friendly, more effective and less confusing.
Carly Klassen is Executive Director of Alberta Music (one of The Branch’s first clients!). She knows what we’re going for. “Every single time I walk into The Branch or I have a question, they make it as easy as possible to work with them, and really help you understand the purpose of the bank.”
Why banking for artists
Well, as Klassen says, “Investing in the arts brings people together. It’s investing in your local economy. The reason I do my job is that I want to support artists making music. I want them to take their music seriously.”
We do too.