Illinois bank donates money for Facebook likes

Emily Chin, Reporter

First Bank & Trust is donating $2.50 to a different nonprofit organization each month for each “like” it gets on its Facebook page.

The program, which raised $500 from August to the end of September, began in August and will run through December. It has donated to the Evanston Community Foundation and the Youth Job Center so far and will be donating to the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation at the end of this month.

The program started because First Bank & Trust wanted to give back to the community and increase its social media presence, said Jay Lytle, managing director of First Bank & Trust.

“We’re relatively new to social media, so our expectations were not high,” Lytle said. “But we are extremely pleased with the partnership that we’ve had with the first two organizations.”

First Bank & Trust uses its Facebook page and YouTube account to provide people with financial information, rather than information specifically about the bank, Lytle said. The bank created its Facebook page May 2013, and as of 9:35 p.m. Thursday, the page had 457 likes.

“We think it’s extremely important for us to be on social media, and we are redirecting much of our marketing toward social media,” he said.

First Bank & Trust has been the Evanston Community Foundation’s banker for a long time, said Rebecca Cacayuran, program officer of the Evanston Community Foundation. The foundation, which was the program’s organization for August, awards grants and offers programs to strengthen local nonprofits so they can better serve people and families in Evanston, she said.

“We have had a long relationship with First Bank & Trust,” she said. “They’re a community bank, and so they’re supportive of the community, and nonprofits especially. So we’re just so honored and proud and grateful to be the first in this series.”

In August, First Bank & Trust received 105 new likes on Facebook, donating $262.50 to the Evanston Community Foundation. Cacayuran said she thinks the First Bank & Trust’s program led the foundation to get 45 new Facebook likes in August, resulting in more online ticket sales for its annual benefit.

Cacayuran said she hopes people who like the First Bank & Trust page will learn about other local nonprofits.

In September, First Bank & Trust donated money to the Youth Job Center, which has helped more than 20,000 youths find jobs.

This month, First Bank & Trust will be donating money to the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit organization that gives company to adults seeking companionship, said AUAF Vice President Kenneth Jacobs.

AUAF has also done projects on a more global scale.

“There were people stuck in Iraq running from ISIS,” Jacobs said. “They are Assyrians. Now there are refugee kids in Lebanon, and they can’t do anything. We sent one of our people over there with quite a bit of money, and we put thousands of those kids in school in Lebanon. And that’s pretty exciting.”

AUAF will use the money they receive from First Bank & Trust to fund other programs such as scholarships for Assyrian youth in Chicago.

Lytle said the amount of money the bank has donated so far has exceeded his expectations, and he said he wants to continue the program in the future.

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