You may see a giant yellow pig wandering the mall at the Goolwa Shopping Centre on Saturday, June 8 and share a laugh with the kids, but this is serious business.
The presence of the symbolic Pig E. Bank is part of another presentation of cheques to community groups from the Goolwa & District Community Bendigo Bank; its charter to give money back to you, hence the marketing slogan, it starts with ‘U’.
As the local branch chairman Carol Gaston puts it to sporting and community groups, ‘if we help you, you help us so we can help you even more’. “It’s getting that message across,” she says.
Yet, despite the campaigns, indeed the clear notion that it is a community bank in the true sense with everyday people as shareholders, there is evidence to suggest throughout Bendigo’s Australia-wide branches that people still believe there is a catch of some kind. Not in the slightest.
The Goolwa & District Community branch will this weekend again show its local support by presenting cheques to support groups and projects relating to the University of the Third Age, the Scout and Guide Hall, Goolwa, Port Elliot Primary School, Southern Fleurieu Cancer Support Group, Port Elliot Town & Foreshore Improvement Association, and Goolwa Day Care Centre. This takes its donations to almost $70,000 over the past three years, making it the most significant local sponsorship behind Alexandrina Council projects.
The sponsorships have always been gratefully received and acknowledged, like the Friends of the Oscar W group recently when its president Graham Pratt and crew members paraded the community bank message along the River Murray. We are talking about volunteers who between them donated 14,000 hours last year to this magnificent century-old paddle steamer for our benefit, and the G&DCBB in turn supporting their cause.
“We received money from Bendigo Bank for marketing and sponsorship even before we opened our doors two years ago last May,” Carol said. “That’s gone into the community that would not have gone back in otherwise.
“We have put in place our biannual sponsorship process that we do in April and September each year, and we are allocating $6000-$10,000 each time. We are also looking at longer-term relationships with some of our sporting clubs. We are currently negotiating with four clubs to look at sponsorships over a three-year period.
“We are trying to inform the membership of those clubs the benefits of the community bank… if they buy a product such as insurance, finance or take out a loan we will keep a register and we will consider adding to our base sponsorship an amount according to the business we receive from the membership.
“Now that community groups and sporting clubs know we exist, it is a matter of getting to the members, and us as a community bank also understanding their needs.
“The difference with a community bank is that it is owned by the community, in our case by 200 shareholders who live in this community. There is a 50-50 profit share with Bendigo Bank, which is a franchise. Our branch is owned by shareholders called Alex Invest Community Services, which uses its 50 per cent share of profit to pay all overheads including wages. Once that’s paid for we split our remaining profit with 20% in shares and 80% in good works.”
The G&DCBB recently appointed new members to the board – Tracy Parkes, whose commitment to the community and financial knowledge is highly commendable, leading to her appointment as treasurer, Bart O’Brien, who has a background in health and solid HR and governance knowledge, David Jackson, with sound experience in small business development and governance, and Claudia Goldsmith, from an account firm in Adelaide and on the Alexandrina Council audit committee. According to Carol, together they have added significant depth to an already highly-professional skills base.
Also, the G&DCBB has appointed Michael Bastian, who has 15 years experience in the banking industry, as its new manager. He and his wife, Peta, have three young boys, and are building on Hindmarsh Island.
Not a skerrick of Michael’s impressive credentials will prepare him for the experience of co-hosting the presentation of cheques to community groups alongside a character like Pig E. Bank on Saturday from 11am-1pm, but this event is not really about them – it’s about “U”.