A NORTH-EAST building society has launched a new strategy to co-ordinate and maximise the benefits it brings to local communities.

Darlington Building Society has unveiled its “community impact strategy” to combine its commitment to donating five per cent of profits to good causes, along with volunteering, financial education, and sharing facilities with local groups.

Despite the economic challenges of the pandemic, the Society will this year donate £60,000 to worthy organisations from the profits generated during 2020.

And County Durham Community Foundation, which administers the five per cent fund on behalf of the Society, has announced it will make an additional donation to bring the total handed out to at least £100,000.

The first tranche of beneficiaries from the 2020 profits have now been announced and they are: Darlington CAP Debt Centre; Butterwick Hospice; South Tees Hospitals Charity; Hartlepool Special Needs Group; Middlesbrough Amateur Swimming Club; Yarm Wellness Centre; Spennymoor Town Band; the Allstars Netball Team, from Hartlepool; and Skelton United Football Club.

Niki Barker, the Society’s Director, People and Culture, said: “Darlington Building Society has been at the heart of the community since it was formed 165 years ago but we want to go further by joining up our key initiatives under one strategy.

“The five per cent pledge is close to our hearts, and we are proud to be able to share £60,000 this year despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. We are also hugely grateful for the support of County Durham Community Foundation and for boosting the fund with a generous further donation.”

Niki added that the financial contribution to good causes is just one of the four key pillars within the new community strategy. By strengthening and supporting as many local causes as possible across each of these, the Society believes it can have a real valuable and sustainable impact across its operating area. The four pillars consist of:

  • Sharing profits – through the annual five per cent pledge
  • Sharing time – through volunteering and fundraising
  • Sharing knowledge – through financial education and career enhancement
  • Sharing space – by making facilities available to community groups

The strategy also features a “Local 5” initiative in which the Society’s nine branches will be empowered to work with their members to select five charities and good causes in their local areas to have a more tailored focus on support each year.

“It’s a more focused approach, aimed at creating a sustainable, meaningful relationship with the community by bringing all of these core activities together so that we can maximise the value we bring to the local areas we serve,” added Niki.

In 2020, the Society announced that it was extending its five per cent pledge to 2025 and this year the focus will be on supporting organisations that are making a difference around three main themes: mental health, unemployment, and loneliness.

Margaret Vaughan, Chief Operating Officer for County Durham Community Foundation, said: “It has been wonderful to support Darlington Building Society’s charitable giving through the services of the Foundation.

“Like so many of our fund-holders, Darlington Building Society wants to make a difference when it comes to key issues like quality education, decent work and reducing inequalities. By working together, we can achieve so much more: sharing local knowledge and resources for the good of the community.”