Community commitment

Fifth Third Bank provided more than $2 million in foundation grants, local donations and in-kind donations to Northeastern Ohio in 2002.

That’s a strong commitment from an organization headquartered in Cincinnati, with a 5 percent local market share.

“Fundamentally and from an overall corporate perspective, we are big believers in supporting the communities in which we live and work,” says Robert King Jr., the bank’s president and CEO. “As we came to Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio market, it became evident that the one thing that was important was to participate and support the market, so we began looking for opportunities to do just that.”

Fifth Third focuses its philanthropy on youth and education.

“We drive all of our charitable giving locally,” says King. “It might formally get approved at the corporate level, but if we recommend it, it gets done. The vast majority of our involvement is locally driven, and all decisions are made locally. Suffice it to say that our operating model drives the process on the local level. For it to be effective, it has to be that way.”

The bank also tries to touch on a broad spectrum of causes, ranging from in-school banking programs to corporate sponsorships of the Cleveland arts.

“Rarely do I see an approach for money that does not represent a worthy cause,” says King. “A lot of people in the bank are involved in different organizations, and we try to support them. Our customers are involved in organizations and there are organizations that are our customers that merit our support. Having a broad reach is important, but there is a place for focusing larger levels of support where there can be a high degree of impact as well.”

King credits Fifth Third’s employees’ commitment to volunteerism with the success of many of the bank’s programs.

“I like to think that we lead and they follow,” says King “We find out that a lot of people in the organization have been touched by these agencies we help. A lot have volunteered for that reason. We can’t compel them to volunteer their time, so we try to create reasons to get involved.

“Hopefully, they realize that it is appropriate to give back to the community and find it gratifying to do so.” How to reach: Fifth Third Bank, (216) 274-5400