As COVID-19 strained community resources, Bank of America marshalled support to critical local lifelines including food banks, health care providers, educational institutions and employment services. In its wake, the pandemic revealed deep rooted racial and economic inequalities, and the bank pledged a $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to help underserved and overlooked communities. In neighborhoods around the country, local market executives continue to work with local organizations, municipalities and businesses to narrow economic gaps and health-care deficiencies, and accelerate job creation, and social justice.
To draw attention to community needs and bank efforts, nearly 100 new local market web pages were launched in 2021. The pages showcase the organizations helping people meet critical needs, start businesses or learn a new trade. These stories bring to life how the work of local organizations, with support from the bank, are contributing to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity.
The articles employ a blend of compelling display copy, imagery, and video, backed by an editorially-minded narrative. Whether highlighting a new jobs program for the Navajo Nation, addressing housing shortages in San Luis Obispo, CA, or how the United Way of the Central Carolinas is addressing rising food insecurity, each article portrays the challenges communities are facing and how local nonprofits are helping them.
As the pages gained traction in 2021, the bank sought to attract a bigger audience with strong local community engagement, crucial to the campaign’s success.
With a strong history of supporting local communities, Bank of America is committed to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity to historically underserved populations. In 2020, the bank committed $1.25B over five years to respond in real time to racial injustices and social/financial disparities.
By partnering with the right community-led voices and organizations Bank of America seeks to address issues around racial inequality and economic opportunity by, prioritizing four focus areas: jobs/reskilling, affordable housing, healthcare, and support for small businesses.
Through a blend of videos, articles, and podcasts, the bank developed a cross-platform content strategy, utilizing owned digital and social channels, and partnering with local market and global influencers to drive awareness. Additionally, the initiative is promoted through media partners including Black Information Network, Axios, Axios Latino, GZero, and Politico. Every piece of content drove to an initiative anchor page on the Bank of America site, where viewers could engage with narrative storytelling that highlights the importance of addressing racial equality and economic opportunity.
Each story is based in empathy and understanding, and the bank worked closely with community leaders and members to tell their story and reflect their personal and larger community values. To do so, the tone of the content is empowering, empathetic and engaging, and focuses on individuals, with the brand playing a supporting role.
In its second year, the bank developed dozens of content pieces, connecting each to our focus areas and the larger national narrative, positioning Bank of America as a community steward, emphasizing how each individual story was bigger than the brand. By focusing on non-profit partners, the bank highlighted issues that historically underserved communities face, demonstrating how resources and support can empower local organizations to address the challenges they face.
The $1.25B commitment goals — advancing racial equality and economic opportunity — are ambitious and not easily measurable in a fixed time frame, they require multi-year planning, nuanced relationship-building, and corporate accountability to see them through.
To track success, the bank measures engagement, sentiment, favorability and other factors to ensure our content struck the right tone. At the same time, publication partners provide engagement and audience sentiment reporting.
To date, Bank of America’s commitment has already deployed more than $450M through grants, lending and investing, Minority Depository Institution (MDI) and Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) partnerships, financing solutions for small businesses, the company’s diversity and inclusion work and hiring practices, philanthropy, thought leadership and more.
But the depth of personalized storytelling is what made this year’s Local Impact investment campaign outperform last year’s numbers. By focusing on telling the stories of the organizations, people and communities being impacted by inequities, engagement, sentiment and favorability improved YOY. The campaign spans 92 markets, and includes 300 local newspapers, radio stations, and social media channels.
More broadly, the people-first approach helped deliver a 91% increase in YOY pageviews to our anchor website. — a testament to the power of great storytelling focused on people, and boosted by select awareness-driving partners. Newsletters were a massive awareness driver, reaching over 839k viewers. Across newsletter partners, CTR increased 12pp over last year.
By spotlighting local organizations and the communities they serve, compelling stories that resonated with a wide audience came to life. By showing how the local impact funding has produced a tangible positive effect on the communities its helping, these local stories also struck a chord at a national level.