FLORENCE — Florence Bank recently presented $100,000 in awards ranging from $500 to $5,000 to 57 area nonprofits through its 16th annual Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program during an event at the Garden House at Look Memorial Park. The funds will support libraries, schools, police, fire departments, hospitals and hospices, and other organizations that benefit people of all ages, as well as animals and the environment.
Noting that the bank reached the $1.05 million mark in terms of grants made over nearly two decades to 144 community nonprofits, President and CEO John Heaps Jr. offered a toast to roughly 150 volunteers and staff members from the organizations who gathered for the celebration last month.
“We started 16 years ago with an idea to ask our customers to vote for a worthy organization to receive funds,” Heaps said. “Here’s to the $1 million mark.”
Heaps noted that the bank is most grateful to the 57 organizations and the work they do to strengthen the community. “You make our communities special with your contributions every day. Here’s to you.”
The Customers’ Choice Community Grants Program is an annual offering founded in 2002, through which Florence Bank customers are invited to vote for their favorite local nonprofit in hopes it will receive a share of grant funding. In its early years, awards of $50,000, and later, $75,000, were offered each year by the bank; in more recent years, $100,000 has been disbursed each spring.
To qualify for a community grant, organizations must receive at least 50 votes. Marketing Director Monica Curhan said at the event that this year each vote is worth about $15 to the organizations. She also said that, for the first time this year, eight organizations that received between 40 and 49 votes were invited to attend the event to vie for one bonus $500 award. Leaders from three of the eight were present — Easthampton Dollars for Scholars, Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School PTO and the Family Business Center of Pioneer Valley Inc.
In 2017, before the Dec. 31 deadline, 10,111 votes were cast through Customers’ Choice.
The Customers’ Choice Community Grants program is a year-long initiative. Customers’ of the bank can vote via paper ballots until Dec. 31 at each bank branch location or online at www.florencebank.com/vote.
Nonprofits are encouraged to create campaigns to motivate their constituents, those who are Florence Bank customers, to vote. To request materials to help with a campaign, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and request a Customers’ Choice kit.