Best Socially Responsible Banks

Social responsibility is a crucial term right now – and finding socially responsible banks is becoming more of the norm.

As consumers become more aware of how the companies they’re using impact society and the environment, attention is turning to financial institutions.

How are they spending consumers’ money? Are their actions aligned with their consumers’ values?

More and more consumers are looking to take steps towards social responsibility when it comes to their personal finance.

One of those steps is looking for banks and credit unions that do things responsibly and ethically.

Things like minimizing emissions, working for the welfare of society, and sustainable development are seen as more and more important.

If you’re looking to switch to a new bank or find out whether your current bank does things in a way that aligns with your values, this is what this article will cover.

What Are Socially Responsible Banks?

When we think about big banks or other financial institutions, probably the first things that come to mind aren’t the environment, social causes, or socially responsible investing.

Some financial institutions, though, help good causes, and they have a certification to prove it!

Here are the most common certifications and memberships for banks to prove they are not spending your money on whatever they want but are investing responsibly:

B Corporation

To be B Corp Certified for a bank or another business means that this business is making a real effort to balance profit and purpose.

B Corp usually certifies banks helping the social economy, reducing inequality and poverty in some way, and supporting sustainability and a healthier environment.

B Corp aims to help nonprofits and governments’ efforts by encouraging businesses to use their money and power for good causes.

Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV)

GABV is an independent network of banks, all working towards the same goals: using their finances to improve social, environmental, and other good causes.

They all work towards a better banking system, which will ideally be more transparent and at the same time support social, economic, and environmental efforts.

The network already has 64 financial institutions and 16 strategic partners to count on, and it is continuously expanding internationally.

Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)

The CDFI fund is mainly used to give disadvantaged communities the same opportunities others have – like reducing inequality by getting more capital into the neighborhood lacking access to financing.

The fund is composed of both private businesses and federal capital. Any financial institution can apply to be a member of CDFI, and when approved, start contributing to the cause.

14 Best Socially Responsible Banks and Credit Unions

Now let’s take a look at the best socially responsible banks and credit unions out there right now.

These banks and credit unions have earned their reputation as socially responsible through certifications, meaning they would spend your money ethically and responsibly.

  1. Aspiration
  2. Capital One
  3. Amalgamated Bank
  4. Ally Bank
  5. City First Bank
  6. Discover Bank
  7. Mascoma Bank
  8. Spring Bank
  9. Sunrise Bank
  10. Alliant Credit Union
  11. Clearwater Credit Union
  12. Beneficial State Bank
  13. First Green Bank
  14. VCC Bank

1. Aspiration

Aspiration is a respected online-only bank with a variety of financial products and a B-Corp certification. The bank donates a generous 10% of its yearly profits to charity.

On top of that, with Aspiration, you can also be sure that your money won’t end up supporting fossil fuel projects such as oil drilling and coal mines.

Their card is green too! It’s made exclusively from plastic recycled from the ocean. Aspiration also allows you to plant a tree with every purchase with their “Plant Your Change” service. Every time you spend the spare change from rounding up your purchases, you can have a tree planted for you.

Aspiration has many excellent financial products, including cashback rewards opportunities if you buy from selected vendors from the Conscience Coalition, such as TOMS.

Aspiration has an interest-bearing account called the Plus Account, which earns up to 5.00% APY. Still, you’ll have to pay monthly fees to qualify for it. If you prefer not to, then choose their Basic Account with up to 3.00%.

  • PERKS: cashback and APY
  • AVAILABILITY: online-only

2. Capital One

Capital One is primarily an online bank, but if you want, you can also open a bank account at one of their Capital One Cafés.

Capital One serves various social and environmental causes. For example, they use renewable energy and 95% environmentally preferred paper, plus they also support low-income women’s employability by providing them with free professional attire, useful to attend business interviews.

All of the buildings they occupy are certified by LEED for green design and construction. They are cost-efficient, high-performing, and most importantly, resource-efficient.

  • CERTIFICATION: LEED = Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
  • PERKS: customer service and Capital One Cafés
  • AVAILABILITY: mostly online but also some locations nationwide

3. Amalgamated Bank

Amalgamated Bank – the first bank owned by a credit union – is a certified B-Corp and a GABV member.

The bank has a history of putting human rights first and currently supports several causes, various nonprofits, and social enterprises.

Some of the causes supported by Amalgamated Bank are climate change, immigrant rights, workers’ rights, criminal justice, gun safety, LGBTQ+ rights, and reproductive rights.

You can find more detailed information about the initiatives they run on their website.

Amalgamated Bank is a member of FDIC, and it is also an Equal Housing and Equal Opportunity Lender.

This bank offers personal and business banking, as well as investment options. In addition, it has various financial products and financial services for customers who care about where their money ends up.

  • PERKS: secure deposits, Zelle, bill pay
  • AVAILABILITY: online and in Washington DC, New York, and California.

4. Ally Bank

Ally Bank is mainly concerned with helping the communities that surround the areas where it operates.

The bank donates to different causes and has been helping local communities since 2017.

A lot of Ally’s corporate social responsibility efforts gravitate around education. For example, the bank donates to advance financial education, organizes classes on managing finances, and distributes a book called Planet Zeee (which helps kids learn good money habits).

More causes supported by Ally are diversity, inclusion, and economic mobility. They also encourage their employees to give back (and 47% of Ally employees already have).

  • PERKS: customer service, high APY on savings, convenience
  • AVAILABILITY: online-only

5. City First Bank

City First Bank is certified by GABV, B-Corp, and CDFI.

This bank focuses on improving the lives of underrepresented communities in Washington, D.C.

It invests $1 billion for members of underfunded communities to have the same opportunities as anyone else.

City First Bank offers online and mobile banking, 24-hour telephone banking, bill pay, and a complimentary debit card, among other things.

City First Bank is a local community bank, but it can be compared with pride to larger counterparts.

  • PERKS: credit card, bill pay, 24-hour phone banking
  • AVAILABILITY: local branches in Washington DC or online

6. Discover Bank

Discover is an excellent full-service online financial institution for banking.

It offers high APY on your total balance, no overdraft fees, monthly maintenance fees, minimum deposits or any other hidden cost, direct deposits, mobile deposits, and money transfers.

It is not certified directly by any organization as an ethical financial institution. However, it is still doing a lot to help society.

Discover has invested more than $14 million to teach financial skills to high schoolers and $1 million of those, especially in Chicago Public School.

An effort worth mentioning for the local community.

  • PERKS: no fees, good APY rate
  • AVAILABILITY: online-only

7. Mascoma Bank

Mascoma Bank is a certified B-Corp, committed to helping the environment with its solar loan program.

Mascoma bank also strives to improve society by donating money to philanthropies every year.

The bank even gives its employees paid time off for volunteering!

On top of that, 42% of the bank’s board members are women – another of its concrete actions to tighten the gender employment gap.

Mascoma is a full-service bank well known mainly as a lender for mortgages, personal and business loans.

It has several personal banking solutions in place, including various options regarding checking, savings, and CD accounts.

Mascoma is an excellent bank if you live in N.H., VT, or M.E. – not only because of its corporate social responsibility efforts but also because of the variety of banking products.

  • PERKS: a variety of accounts, loans, mortgages, good customer support
  • AVAILABILITY: Northeast U.S.

8. Spring Bank

Spring Bank has excellent customer service, and it offers five different options of high yield savings accounts.

In addition, it has no fees, and you can withdraw for free even at CitiBank’s ATMs or using the MoneyPass ATM network.

Spring Bank was the first bank in New York to get certified by B-Corp. It also contributes to the Community Development Financial Institution Fund – a fund that helps get finance to social enterprises, businesses, and people who can’t get the finance they need from banks.

In addition to that, Spring Bank supports causes to improve the situation of low-income communities and foster the growth of small local businesses.

It has a handful of branch locations in New York (Bronx, Harlem, Broadway, Astoria, and others). Otherwise, you can open an account online.

  • PERKS: competitive rates, no fees
  • AVAILABILITY: New York and online

 9. Sunrise Banks

Sunrise Banks is a Community Development Financial Institution serving Minneapolis and St. Paul since 1986.

It has many financial products and services like credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts, and treasury management solutions to help you keep an eye on your cash flow.

Sunrise markets itself as “the world’s most socially responsible bank.”

It donates 2% of its net income each year to support affordable housing, narrows the achievement gap, and increase diversity and inclusion.

  • PERKS: cash management, variety of products, savings for children
  • AVAILABILITY: Minnesota

10. Alliant Credit Union

Alliant credit union is doing a lot to support education all over the country, and it encourages its employees to do the same.

It underwrites educational grants, funds financial literacy programs, and donates school supplies. In addition, it matches yearly employee donations up to $200.

Alliant is not certified as a socially responsible financial institution yet, but it is taking the right steps.

It offers a high yield savings account, but to earn APY, you will have to keep at least $100 of the balance in your account.

It also gives a complimentary ATM card to withdraw money more conveniently, and it replaces it for free in case you lose it or if someone steals it.

Alliant has some downsides as well, such as international transfer fees and account inactivity fees. Also, be careful about letting your balance drop below $5 – they might close your account.

  • PERKS: High-yield savings account, ATM card
  • AVAILABILITY: online-only

11. Clearwater Credit Union

Clearwater Credit Union has three certifications:

  1. Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV)
  2. Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)
  3. Inclusiv – a network of credit unions allied to support low-income families nationwide in reaching financial independence

Clearwater also supports causes like reducing carbon footprints, protecting the environment, and granting equal pay.

To join this credit union, you usually have to be a Montana resident. However, it’s also possible to become a member by supporting a poverty alleviation association partnered with Clearwater.

Clearwater offers a free account, useful financial planning tools, and it’s easy to apply for its accounts online.

It has an interest-bearing checking account, but the interest rate is relatively low at 0.05%.

  • PERKS: financial planning, no fees
  • AVAILABILITY: Montana/online

 12. Beneficial State Bank

Beneficial State Bank has been triple certified by B-Corp, CDFI, and GABV.

Its efforts aim to support businesses owned by minorities, green structures and services, and sustainable practices.

This bank has around $1 billion in assets and has decided to use some good causes and corporate social responsibility programs.

Opening a bank account online with Beneficial State Bank is easy. You can do it online on their web portal or even with a mobile app.

Its financial offering includes credit cards, personal and business banking, with checking and savings accounts. The bank also gives out loans, and there is also video banking available on the go.

  • PERKS: video-banking, many financial products
  • AVAILABILITY: online and local branches in OR, CA e WA

13. First Green Bank

First Green Bank is a local community bank that operates with purpose. It is certified by B-Corp and GABV.

They are very locally invested, funding local businesses, lending money to people in need in the community, and making an effort to be environmentally friendly.

This bank selling proposition includes giving loans to people with bad credit. They state that everyone should have access to the banking system.

They serve mainly Florida, but you can access their accounts online as well. In addition, they are connected both to Apple Pay and Android Pay for convenient mobile payments.

First Green Bank offers regular business and personal banking accounts, like checking, saving, money market accounts, and CD accounts. In addition to that, there are loans and credit cards.

  • PERKS: Apple and Android Pay, loans for people with bad credit.
  • AVAILABILITY: Florida/online

14. VCC Bank

VCC Bank adopted the goals decided at the United Nations summit of 2013 in New York, attended by world leaders.

The goals are for 2030 and include issues like ending world poverty and gender inequality, achieving zero hunger, quality education everywhere, responsible consumption, and much more.

They have different funds and regularly invest for each of these goals to come true in the future.

VCC is not a bank in the traditional sense. They don’t have debit cards, accounts that you can open, or ATMs. It is more precisely a nonprofit financial holding company.

They operate primarily with real-estate developers, private and public businesses in the form of loans and investments.

  • PERKS: gov/private loans and investments
  • AVAILABILITY: Virginia/online

Socially Responsible Banks FAQs

Which banks are the most ethical?

All of the banks listed above practice ethical banking and have decided to support good causes one way or another.

An excellent way to see if a bank is ethical is to check if they are certified, for example, by B-Corp, CDFI, or GABV.

An example of ethical banks is Amalgamated bank which supports several causes such as LGBTQ+ and human rights.

Why are banks socially responsible?

Banks are socially responsible for two main reasons:

  1. They, as an organization, care about the future
  2. They know that consumers are increasingly preoccupied with social impact, and environmental impact and so will trust and invest more willingly with them if they prove to be socially responsible.

Which banks are eco-friendly?

Most of the financial institutions listed in the article above (Aspiration, Ando, Capital One, Discover Bank, Spring Bank, etc.) are green and eco-friendly.

Banks that include the environment in their efforts are, for example, Clearwater against carbon footprints and Capital One, which uses 95% renewable energy for its facilities.

What is responsible banking?

Responsible banking means that the bank will not use its money only to increase its profits – and will refuse to give money for potentially harmful activities (like oil drilling, for example).

Instead, it will opt to fund better causes (like equality and animal rights).