American Independent Business Alliance

Why Shift to a Community Financial Institution?

Note: The term CFI (community financial institution) is used throughout this page to include both community banks and local credit unions.

Moving your money to a locally-owned bank or credit union is rarely a sacrifice. In fact, most people and businesses will save money by choosing to “bank local.” Shifting personal, business and institutional bank accounts (including your town’s or city’s) to local CFIs is one key way to:

  • Build wealth locally instead of exporting it to Wall St.
  • Expand opportunities for local entrepreneurs and create more local jobs (see 2nd graph below)
  • Keep decision-making power in your community. When absentee-owned corporations have your money, they wield unaccountable power over you and your community.

We hope the resources below help you learn about the ownership and practices of the banks in your area and instigate shifts in your community. Also, if you have loans or credit cards, consider that using a local CFI is equally important for these transactions. In addition to accepting deposits, your community banks and credit unions are must be able to loan out those funds to sustain its services! And just like bank accounts, you’ll often find CFIs offer better loan and credit card terms.

[tweetthis url=”” display_mode=”button_link”]Why & How to Choose a Locally-Owned Financial Institution (it’s not always easy to tell) #LocalFirst[/tweetthis]

How to Assess Your Options Before Choosing Where to Bank


Click for larger image you can share on social media or website.

Bank Local is an online database lets you easily look up the banks with branches in your area and see their performance on values such as local ownership, community reinvestment, small business support and more. Highly recommended!

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provides a simple online tool to learn the market share of banks in your area. This allows you to track shifts in your area over time, which will yield valuable data for “Move Your Money” campaigns.

Charts and graphs on the state of the banking industry and benefits of banking locally from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

FDIC Community Banking Study is a data-driven effort to identify and explore issues and questions about community banks.

Credit Union Locator

Representatives of Credit Unions and Community Banks

Click image for large file shareable on social media/website. (300dpi file is available upon request)

ICBA (Independent Community Bankers of America)
ICBA’s mission to “Create and promote an environment where community bank flourish” is thriving. They are currently the voice for nearly 5,700 community banks and are dedicated to representing and advocating for the interests of the community banking industry.

CUNA (Credit Union National Association)
CUNA is the only national association that advocates for the entire credit union movement. They make sure that credit unions can serve their members with strongest advocacy, promotion, and support.

CDBA (Community Development Bankers Association)
CDBA is the national trade association of the community development bank sector. They are the championing voice for banks with a mission of serving low and moderate income communities.

CDCU (Credit Unions United to Serve the Underserved
CDCU specializes in serving populations with limited access to safe financial services. This includes low-income wage earners, recent immigrants, people with disabilities, young people, and the growing number of Americans seeking financial independence through credit unions.

Useful articles and tools related to banking local 

bank-localWe Were Wrong About Universal Banking
John Reed (former Citibank CEO),  2015
One in Four Local Banks Has Vanished Since 2008. Why?
Stacy Mitchell, 2015
Community Banks Punch Above Their Weight
Terry Jorde, 2014
Small Banks Providing Better Rates, Gaining Young
Cash mobs
Money stamps

Make the Bank Local! shift in a big way

Shifting your personal loans, credit cards, and accounts is a smart move, as we have discussed, but what if you can do more? Helping to shift the bank accounts of your city, schools or other local institutions to Bank Local! is a great way to strengthen your community while aligning the interests of all who live there. Here are some tips for Partnering With Community Banks and Credit Unions.

Beyond Banking: Your Community Investment

  • Michael Shuman’s book “Local Dollars, Local Sense” helped lead an AMIBA webinar on driving local investment.
  • provides a wealth of news and resources about diverting investments from Wall Street to Main Street.Please contact us with any questions or if you have suggestions for other beneficial resources regarding the topic local banking or if you have a story or experience with moving from a megabank to a CDFI!

Follow Us

Donate to AMIBA

Donate to AMIBA


Your Donation Amount

Select Payment Method
Personal Info

Billing Details

Download an editable version of this document here



<Contact Name>
<Bank Name>
<Bank Address>

Dear Mr/Ms. <Name>,

<Your Region> is taking the next steps towards local and sustainable development and you have the opportunity to be on the forefront of helping local communities grow and prosper.  Local businesses are creating jobs, restoring our economy, and ensuring economic opportunity for all.  Like <Bank Name> , <Your IBA> , a <City/Area>-based non-profit organization, is a regional leader in this development, and we hope to partner with you to ensure our communities continue to prosper.

<Your IBA> has delivered breakthrough programs and events including (List major accomplishments this year):

  • Our XYZ campaign…
  • <Your IBA> continues to be a force in local and regional media, with our expertise in local economies cited regularly in dozens of media outlets.
  • <Your IBA> membership eclipsed <total #> this year, including XXX locally owned and independent businesses, and over XXX community members.

<Your IBA> has had a positive, demonstrable impact locally and regionally, but we need your help to continue strengthening local economies in these critical times. We are excited to present our programming to you and are confident a funding partnership will be mutually beneficial.  There are several levels to this giving opportunity and we appreciate your support.  We will recognize your gift on our website and in our social media channels, as well as at our events throughout the year.  Here is an example of the impact your donation will have on <Your IBA> and our community (insert your own wishlist items):

  • $500 will cover the marketing costs for our major annual event.
  • $750 will fund the purchase of new IT equipment that is sorely needed to continue expanding our programs.
  • $1,200 will cover the rental cost of our office for one calendar year.
  • $2,500 will pay for 1 month of our Executive Director’s salary (our only paid staff person)
  • $5,000 will cover the entire cost of our non-staff and program expenses for one calendar year.

<Your IBA> serves local businesses and builds our area’s economy, an essential need in this economic climate.  Your support will help <Your IBA> continue to ensure <Our Community> nurtures our independent businesses that create good local jobs, create a vibrant and unique place, and so much more.  Thank you for partnering with us and our vibrant network of local businesses and community leaders. Best wishes for a prosperous <2013>.

Executive Director
<Your IBA>

Gifts may be sent to :
<Mailing Address>

Tags: ,


  1. » Strength in Numbers, August 2016 - […] Bank Local […]

Submit a Comment

Stay Informed!

Get the best tools and news from among hundreds we review each month in one concise message 

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This