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By Jaidyn Crookston | November 02, 2021 | 6 Minute Read

Seacoast Bank's CRA Ambassadors: How to Engage Employees in CRA

Seacoast Bank presenting check
If you struggle to engage bank employees in your CRA program, you aren’t alone. Just like most financial institutions, Seacoast Bank used to find it hard to engage employees and spread the word about their community initiatives
But now, thanks to their CRA Ambassadors program, Seacoast Bank’s CRA program is thriving. CRA Officer Iris Jones started the CRA Ambassadors program in late 2020. This program is basically a network of community-minded bank employees who work together to promote Seacoast Bank’s CRA program and forge community partnerships
The purpose of Seacoast Bank’s CRA Ambassadors program is to empower the entire team to be part of the CRA process. Iris noticed that there were many leaders in her bank who were doing great things, but didn’t have the opportunity to contribute to the CRA program and expand their reach. 
Chances are your financial institution has similar people. You know who they are: the people everyone seems to know and love. These people have deep relationships with many members of the community and love to serve, but don’t quite have the direction they need to support the CRA program.
Take Michelle Michnoff, one of Seacoast Bank’s strongest CRA Ambassadors. Michelle is extremely passionate about helping her community. She’s on the board of several nonprofits, including Boys & Girls Clubs of Lake & Sumter Counties and South Lake Chamber of Commerce. Michelle even owns and operates her own nonprofit organization, Charity Across South Lake. This nonprofit gave presents to over 2,000 kids last year and fed 750 families around the holidays. Clearly, Michelle loves to serve her community. 
When Iris approached Michelle and asked her to join the CRA Ambassadors program, Michelle was thrilled. She knew this program would help her build deeper relationships with the members of her community. Not to mention it would strengthen the bank she loves. 
According to Michelle, “My favorite part of being a CRA Ambassador is that I can go out and talk with other businesses about why it’s important to bank with us. You’re not a number to us; we give back through our community giving programs.”
Michelle was drawn to the CRA Ambassadors program because she recognized an opportunity to do even more. Michelle’s nickname around town is “the mayor” because she knows everyone and everything. If someone needs something done or is gathering support for their nonprofit, they come to Michelle. This has made her participation in the CRA Ambassadors program even more valuable, as she has been able to introduce Iris to several community partners and has introduced individuals and businesses to the great products and services provided by Seacoast Bank.
Many CRA teams feel like a one-person army. With so much on your plate and so much to do in the community, it can seem impossible to pursue every lead and opportunity that comes your way. But with CRA Ambassadors like Michelle out advocating your program and helping you find CRA opportunities, this burden becomes lighter. Iris’ Ambassadors often bring things to her attention. They give her ideas, introduce her to people in the community, and just generally support her work. Iris welcomes these ideas (many of which lead to CRA credit) and has found that they’re often stronger and better researched than her own initiatives.  
The CRA Ambassadors and Iris work together to build Seacoast Bank’s CRA program, increase their customer base, and establish projects and partnerships. Strong communication and collaboration is key to streamlining their work and having the highest possible impact. Since they don’t want to duplicate one another's efforts, every CRA Ambassador is diligent about filling out forms in Kadince to properly document their efforts and track their data. They even have quarterly meetings and an internal webpage where they collaborate together, acknowledge each others’ accomplishments, and celebrate successes.
These CRA Ambassadors have become the face of Seacoast Bank’s community program. When Iris, the CEO, commercial bankers, or another bank representative is ready to reach out to a potential community partner, it’s the CRA Ambassadors who lay the foundation for this partnership and set up the meeting. This helps partnerships progress further and faster, something every CRA Officer knows can take quite some time. 
The mission of the CRA Ambassadors program is to build a network of highly trained community volunteers that create positive impact both inside and outside the bank. According to Iris, this mission has been met and even surpassed, as Seacoast Bank’s CRA program is stronger than ever and more and more people contribute to their efforts every day. 
Of course, as we all know, CRA work is never done. Iris has high hopes for the future of her CRA Ambassadors program, but she knows that it will take time and dedication to maintain the momentum they have and continue to grow and support their local community. She’s excited to see what the future will bring, and can’t wait to start training more CRA Ambassadors to uphold Seacoast Bank’s CRA program. 

According to Iris, “Kadince has created an opportunity for us to have a more streamlined impact.” To learn more about how Kadince can help track, manage, and streamline your own bank’s community program, schedule a personalized demo
The ideas in this article came from our webinar with Iris Jones, the CRA Officer at Seacoast Bank. To learn more about Seacoast Bank’s CRA Ambassadors program, check out our webinar recording.

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Jaidyn Crookston | Content Manager, Kadince

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