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Breaking down CRA requirements for volunteer service hours

February 25, 2022
A group of business professional crowd around a desk and share paperwork as they break down Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) requirements for volunteer service hours.

The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) aims to revitalize lower-income communities by instituting lending requirements for banks. Since its implementation in 1977, the CRA has significantly increased lending in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities.  

The Community Reinvestment Act includes several tests that banks need to pass to prove they meet compliance and ensure they are investing back into their local communities. 

If you work at a bank that is currently creating lending opportunities for LMI businesses and borrowers, you know the importance of recording the time and resources you invest in an LMI community to receive CRA credit. We’ll break down the CRA service hour requirements and how you can track volunteer hours to make sure you stay compliant. 

How tracking volunteering hours can pay off

To comply with CRA requirements, your bank must strengthen LMI communities through lending, investment, and service. Effectively tracking employee volunteer hours will pay off when your bank is evaluated based on its service in your community. 

The Federal Reserve credits banks for volunteer hours that meet CRA criteria, so you need to have a solution in place to track the results of all of your volunteer efforts. This includes everything from financial literacy programs, to fundraising activities, to board memberships.

Why capturing all employee volunteer efforts is essential for CRA compliance

Do you get the feeling you could be missing some CRA qualifying activities? You’re not alone. 

Although complex, it’s important for your bank’s growth plans to capture all of your potential CRA credits accurately. The ability to open new locations, merge with other banks, and fulfill expansion efforts depends on your CRA compliance. Reporting volunteer activities and programs correctly ensures your bank can gain credits and avoid getting applications denied by a monitoring agency. 

For banks, it’s essential to track all employee volunteerism and pro-bono activities, including:

  • Community education initiatives
  • Financial literacy programs
  • Loan programs
  • Volunteer hours at food banks
  • Fundraising events
  • Board service

In order to record this data accurately and capture all CRA credits, put a system in place that makes the process of tracking volunteer hours easier for administrators and volunteers. Accurate systems allow your bank to prove you meet CRA requirements faster, continue your expansion plans, and manage volunteer programs seamlessly.

How to capture all of your volunteer hours using software

Because there are four federal banking agencies that examine individual banks periodically to assess their CRA records, it’s important to have a solution that can expeditiously track and report results across a variety of activities. 

With quality software, your bank won’t have to rely on data from multiple spreadsheets which may not be comprehensive enough for regulators. Ensure accurate reporting, quickly identify opportunities for compliance across assessment areas, and capture all CRA-applicable service hours in one place using software.

To ease the burden of complying with the CRA and managing volunteer programs, the right tools make all the difference in:

  • Facilitating easier reporting to enable audit teams to inform regulators of CRA compliance efforts.
  • Tracking employee volunteer hours and monitoring progress toward bank goals.
  • Increasing participation and attendance through scheduling efficiencies and interactive dashboards that foster engagement.

The right software solution will do more than just comply with CRA requirements. It’ll also improve your bank’s employee engagement in the long run, boosting employee retention and fostering a more positive work environment. 

The best CRA compliance solution: Bonterra Corporate Social Responsibility

Bonterra Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’s Volunteerism solution (formerly CyberGrants) eases reporting burdens and streamlines the workflow and data required for CRA assessment areas. 

To ensure your volunteer hours aren’t going to waste, we help CRA audit teams gather the data they need easily and efficiently, allowing them to make quick and informed decisions. All CRA activity is tracked through Bonterra CSR and available in dashboard views, so administrators can track activity in real time and quickly identify any assessment areas that may need extra attention.

With Bonterra CSR, we make it easier to develop robust volunteer programs and capture all the good you are doing. We help your employees easily track their volunteer hours, give administrators agile ways to capture and report data, and provide the ability to show results to regulators in efficient dashboards.

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    Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Volunteerism
  • Financial institutions
  • Corporate social responsibility
  • Employee volunteering