Local bank extends Facebook donation campaign

Tori Latham, Assistant City Editor

First Bank & Trust has decided to extend its Facebook donation campaign through May and will give money to five local nonprofit organizations.

The bank, which is based in Evanston, began the campaign in August, giving $2.50 to a nonprofit for each “like” the bank received on its Facebook page. The beneficiary organization varied by month and the bank donated to five different local groups, including the Evanston Community Foundation and the Youth Job Center last year.

This year from January to May, First Bank & Trust will donate to the McGaw YMCA, the Shorefront Legacy Center, the Woman’s Club of Evanston, Citizens’ Greener Evanston and Curt’s Cafe.

“We started it as a way to grow our Facebook community and shine a light on the fact that we are a bank for nonprofits,” said Michael Yohanan, marketing manager at First Bank & Trust. “It was a great success and we want to continue to grow more visibility.”

The bank has a long list of customers, of which about 850 were nonprofits, Yohanan said. From that list, they chose one to partner with for each month of the campaign, he said.

“We partner with these businesses to help cross-promote,” he said. “We want to show that we are a place to go in the community and help promote other organizations in the city.”

Susan Trieschmann, the executive director at Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St., said she asked First Bank & Trust how to become involved when she saw the campaign being advertised at one of the bank’s branches.

“I’m hoping to put the money into our program for students,” she said. “It probably won’t be a lot, but I hope to use it as a stipend for our students or as a way to get more kids into the program.”

Yohanan said during the last campaign, the bank maxed out on their donations, which came to $500 a month. He estimated that First Bank & Trust’s Facebook page received around 200 likes per month, contributing to their current total of 1,105 likes.

“We decided we’re sticking with $500 this time,” he said. “I imagine we’ll have similar numbers this time, but I would like to see growth.”

Dino Robinson, founder and director of the Shorefront Legacy Center, 2214 Ridge Ave., said he hopes to put the money they receive toward different programs at the center, which is dedicated to documenting black history in the city.

“I’d like to put it toward our traveling exhibit,” he said. “We have panels of people and entities that talk about black history in Evanston and the North Shore. History doesn’t look good in boxes, so we try to take it out of those boxes and put it in context.”

Yohanan said he was not sure about the future of the program, but that the bank will reassess it after May.

“We want to be a partner to help create a future,” he said. “The community has been very supportive. There are a lot of smiles and people are excited to say that this is my bank.”

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