After nearly a decade of generous donations from wealthy retirees and baby boomers, many nonprofits are flush with cash.

Recognizing this, UMB Financial Corp. in Kansas City, Mo., launched a unit in February that caters exclusively to nonprofits. The division has four employees and offers services ranging from checking accounts to cash management and employee benefits planning.

Jeanne M. Rooney, the director of nonprofit services at $7.3 billion-asset UMB, said the unit was started in response to two key trends. First, many adults have become more giving, thanks to wealth created by the stock market. Second, they are including nonprofits in their wills.

"People noticed how much money was flowing into the sector," Ms. Rooney said.

Between 1992 and 1997, revenues at nonprofits grew 23.5%, to $664.8 billion, according to the Independent Sector, a resource organization for nonprofits in Washington. Because of the lag in data collection, these are the most recent numbers available, but spokeswoman Patricia Nash Workman said the growth has continued.

Of course banks have always done business with nonprofits - often because it is good for community relations, though large ones, such as hospitals, also make good clients.

But historically, banks have never viewed nonprofits as a business line worthy of its own division, according to Daleena Wilkerson, executive director at Chicago's Nonprofit Financial Center.

"The challenge for any bank is that nonprofits in general are high-maintenance," said Ms. Wilkinson. "They don't keep balances high enough to cover costs."

Because nonprofits often receive their entire year's revenue in a short period of time through fund-raisers, balances can fluctuate wildly. UMB educates nonprofits in ways to manage money so that they can maximize interest payments on their deposits through overnight investments and sweep accounts.

UMB had relationships with about 2,500 nonprofits before the division was launched. It has enhanced those relationships by offering more retail services to current customers and added 15 new clients, according to Sheila Kemper Dietrich, manager of personal trust services and the architect of the division.

One client, Special Olympics Missouri, said UMB's cash management service helps it account for donations to show that they are not being wasted.

"The primary thing they've done is understand our need that when donors give money to Special Olympics they want to know where every dime is," said president Mark C. Musso.

ShoreBank, in Chicago, also has noticed that more people are including nonprofits in estate planning and plans to do more marketing of its services. Tim Spilker, business development officer at the $972 million-asset bank, said UMB appears to be the first company "to go after nonprofits in a comprehensive way."

Gene Dooley, president and chief executive officer at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, a UMB customer, agreed. "I've had bankers who were very sincere and helped the YMCA, but not with a product specifically geared for nonprofits," he said.


From Our Archive

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.