The Bankers Benevolent Fund has changed its name to the Bank Workers’ Charity in a bid to distance itself from the negative connotations associated with the word ‘banker’ and the outdated perceptions of the word ‘benevolent’.
The charity’s chief executive Fred Payne said the organisation had been concerned for some time that people do not understand the word ‘benevolence’ and that it has an old-fashioned, outdated image. He led a four-year campaign called ‘Benevolence Today’ that tried to explain what the word meant, but “didn’t get very far”.
“We wanted to drop that word because it doesn’t mean much in today’s world.”
Payne also admitted that the recent public backlash against fat-cat bankers threatened to distort perceptions about what the charity was for.
“We work for low-income bank workers and their families, not senior bankers earning huge salaries and bonuses,” he said.
“We occasionally get people making a joke about bankers – one thing I do find is people deliberately misrepresenting the name.
“There are 420,000 people working for banks and 18 per cent of those are part-time workers, women with caring responsibilities working in call centres and so on. The last people we would be looking to help with grants are senior executives in banks.”
He said the charity wanted to get back to a name that was plain and simple. “We are here for bank workers and we are a charity, so that seemed right.”
The charity adopted the moniker ‘Bankers Benevolent Fund’ in 1984, after its previous incarnation, the Bank Clerks Orphans Fund, merged with the much smaller Bankers Beneficent Society. It will remain the legal name of the entity.
New products and services
The rebranding, which will be formally unveiled on 16 May, coincides with the launch of a new set of products and services from the Bank Workers’ Charity. It has been forming partnerships with a number of other organisations to create services tailored to the needs of beneficiaries and with the intention of reaching new audiences that might benefit from its help. Partners include the National Autistic Society, Arthritis Care, Turn2Us and Leonard Cheshire.
One new product being explored is a ten-week training and development programme to provide opportunities for 1,000 disadvantaged youngsters to get financial services jobs in the City over the next three years. Former Charity Bank executive Susie Nouhan has been commissioned to produce a proposal for discussion with the community investment teams at large banks and potential delivery partners. She is hoping to deliver her report in September 2011.
Payne said this initiative particularly chimed with the charity’s historic purposes, which were to educate the orphans of bank employees to enable them to get jobs. “We’ve helped 9,000 children in our history and the challenges faced by today’s youngsters are very hard to overcome without help.”
The charity is also examining new forms of financing to ensure future sustainability. “We hope we can prove that new initiatives such as Social Impact Bonds and the like can be made to work in a business and employer setting so that other occupational funds can follow our model,” said Payne.