Franklin Savings Bank CEO Jeffery Savage and Director and Fund Committee Chair Meg Miller on Central Street in Franklin. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Franklin Savings Bank CEO Jeffery Savage and Director and Fund Committee Chair Meg Miller on Central Street in Franklin. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Franklin Savings Bank goes big for charity

Bank's donor-advised fund and scholarship support good work and great students in local communities

In 1997, the board of directors at Franklin Savings Bank decided it was time to go big. For charity.

They established the Franklin Savings Bank Fund for Community Advancement at the Charitable Foundation with $1 million.

They wanted to support critical nonprofits serving the bank’s communities in a way that was effective, efficient – and lasting.

And they have.

Since 1997, the donor-advised Franklin Savings Bank Fund for Community Advancement has granted out more than $800,000 to organizations in Franklin and surrounding towns – an area of the state where need is keenly felt.

Grants have helped feed hungry kids and built wheelchair ramps for senior centers, bolstered the local Boys & Girls Club, supported veterans and summer camps for kids and helped the Red Cross with local disaster relief – and much more.

Franklin Savings Bank has always been a generous member of the community. With the Fund for Community Advancement, the bank’s board wanted to “set up something with substantial assets that would be perpetual,” said Franklin Savings Bank CEO Jeffery Savage, “to have lasting benefits long beyond the service of those board members” who established it.

The funds are invested by the Foundation with the dual goal of providing availability for current grantmaking – and providing an enduring source of philanthropic capital to support the community in the future. So even though more than $800,000 has been granted from the fund already, the balance today stands higher than the original $1 million with which it was started.

“It was such a great, long-term decision,” said FSB Director and Fund Committee Chair Meg Miller.

In 2015, $48,600 in grant dollars went to more than a dozen organizations – from the Tiny Twisters Child Care Center to the Newfound Area Nursing Association, Circle Program, CATCH Neighborhood Housing and the Franklin Business and Industrial Development Corporation.

The Foundation takes care of the administration, makes sure grants go to eligible and vetted organizations and that all regulations are followed.  Foundation staff has presented workshops to local nonprofits on the application process. “This is not our business,” Savage said. With the Foundation, “you have assistance in those areas.”

We’re focusing on the parts that we want to focus on, and the Charitable Foundation helps us with an understanding of all the governance requirements and details.
- Meg Miller, Franklin Savings Bank director and fund committee chair
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“We’re focusing on the parts that we want to focus on, and the Charitable Foundation helps us with an understanding of all the governance requirements and details,” said Miller.

The fund’s advisory committee – bank board members and management – are kept appraised of how much is available for grantmaking while keeping the fund sustainable for the future.

Application materials are posted on the bank’s website. Advisory committee members review applications and make recommendations to the Foundation about grants to be made. Then they invite nonprofit partners to gather to celebrate the awards after the grants are awarded.

The fund not only spreads philanthropic capital – it also builds social capital, creating and strengthening community bonds.

“Through the application process, we learn more about the needs in our communities,” Savage said. And the celebration meetings where grantees gather provide a rare opportunity for directors of area nonprofits to meet and share best practices and ideas.

Franklin Savings is one of the few remaining mutual financial organizations in New Hampshire, using customers’ deposits primarily to make loans in the communities it serves. The bank has a long history of supporting community organizations.

The Fund for Community Advancement, Miller said, “gives us a chance to explain that.”

The Fund for Community Advancement was not the first fund that Franklin Savings established at the Charitable Foundation. The Foundation has administered the Franklin Savings Bank Scholarship Fund since it was established in 1995. That fund, initially established in memory of a bank employee, has paid more than $283,000 in tuition for kids in the bank’s market area so far.

The bank’s community philanthropy means a great deal to the communities it serves – and to the people who work at Franklin Savings Bank.

“People feel good,” Savage said, “about working for an organization that makes a difference.”