When Shelaghmichael Brown gets involved in a project, she makes progress fast. The head of retail banking at BBVA Compass needed less than five months to integrate the failed Guaranty Bank in Austin with $12 billion in deposits and 164 branches.

Compass for Your Cause, a program Brown spearheaded, has helped more the 1,000 nonprofit organizations raise money. Each time one of their supporters opens an account BBVA Compass deposits $20 in the organization's account, and each time a supporter uses a check card, the organization gets 0.25 percent cash back.

After her father-in-law died from lymphoma, Brown committed herself to helping people with cancer.She sits on the board of CanCare Inc., which connects cancer patients and their families with volunteers who have survived the same type of cancer.

"I felt like it was an organization that could really make a difference," Brown says. "It isn't about raising money for research. It is more dealing with the reality of individuals when they get cancer."

Since she joined the board, the organization has matched 3,700 patients with volunteers. During her two years as board chairman, hospital visits made by CanCare volunteers increased 44 percent and one-on-one support soared 113 percent.

But in Houston where Brown lives and where M.D. Anderson Cancer Center is located, the need still outstrips the demand.

Being a banker has come in handy when advising CanCare on everything from its financials to its marketing, and even its outreach to cancer patients, who are essentially its clients.

"Those are all things that as a banker I do every day," Brown says. "I am able to use the business experience I have as a banker to help the organization execute on its mission."

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.