“Give to the world the best that you have and the best will come back to you.”
- “Life’s Mirror” by Madeline S. Bridges (Bank of Marin Founder Bill Murray’s favorite quote)

“If we do good, then everybody does better.”

That was Bank of Marin founder Bill Murray’s philosophy. And what did “doing good” mean for Mr. Murray? Turning a healthy profit, providing great services and giving back to his community.

The bank’s annual performance and ever-growing number of customers attest to his first two requirements. And we at COTS can vouch that 30 years after its founding, Bank of Marin still lives to give back to the community.

You can’t visit COTS without seeing reminders of Bank of Marin’s commitment to doing good. We drive a van donated by Bank of Marin, our office cubicles came courtesy of Bank of Marin, our kitchen and gardens have benefited from Bank of Marin employees’ volunteer labor. The Bank has been a generous and steady investor in our work and encourages their employees to do likewise; they match employee giving and provide paid time off for volunteering.

And we’re not the only good cause to be grateful to operate in Bank of Marin’s orbit. In Sonoma County alone, the bank supports over 50 nonprofits. Across the Bay Area, where Bank of Marin has 24 offices, they support more than 300 nonprofits.

The bank focuses its giving on housing and human services, education, the arts, seniors, and economic development.

And the bank tells us that during the pandemic they are doing even more, donating a third of the fees earned by submitting more than 1800 Paycheck Protection Program applications for local businesses to provide funds to local schools in the seven counties in which it operates. The bank’s one stipulation? The money must be used to ensure that low income children get the resources they need to keep up with school while distance learning.

Shelter Services Manager Robin Phoenix hugging the van Bank of Marin donated COTS

“We feel our obligation to be a community partner is greater than ever now, when so many are struggling,” says Russell A. Colombo, the bank’s current and longest-serving President and CEO. “The health of our nonprofits and schools is crucial to our shared recovery.”

The bank is “doing fine,” Russ says. “And many other businesses have made adjustments and are doing well. Those of us who aren’t struggling need to do things to help. We encourage other businesses to join us.”

Elece Hempel, the Executive Director of Petaluma People Services, says that Bank of Marin is “a partner in everything we do at PPSC.” That includes PPSC leadership: Claudia Levindofske, a former Branch Manager, serves on Elece’s board.

From tellers to operations managers and commercial lenders, Bank of Marin’s staff members influence many giving decisions. “We want our employees to support the causes that they believe in passionately,” Russ says. That passion gets shared, and soon, an entire branch is eager to help. That’s how Bank of Marin helped COTS with a fundraiser at Lagunitas a few years ago: one employee enlisted another. That person enlisted another, and soon there was a mighty group that threw a bash so lovely that our supporters outdid themselves.

That’s also how Bank of Marin became a big supporter of the Marin Symphony. Renee Rymer, a Market Manager, inspired a love of classical music and the symphony among her colleagues. Bank leadership took note and formed a partnership with the symphony that still endures. Renee retired from the bank but continues to serve on the symphony’s board.

According to David Short, Bank of Marin’s Regional Manager for Sonoma County, it’s especially important for team members to serve on nonprofit boards, and employees currently serve on over 60 boards. David says, “It’s through that leadership that we get to know about all the good work that’s being done by so many inspiring organizations.”

Thank you, Bank of Marin!

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