Nationwide leads the way in using mutuality to build a sense of citizenship

When it comes to inspiring members and employees to get involved, Nationwide is leading the way.  In 2013, the mutual financial provider achieved Platinum status in the Business...

When it comes to inspiring members and employees to get involved, Nationwide is leading the way. 

In 2013, the mutual financial provider achieved Platinum status in the Business in the Community Corporate Responsibility Index. 

It has achieved a clutch of other accolades for its formidable track record in the wider community with a series of citizenship initiatives based around the PRIDE strategy launched in 2002.

Head of external affairs, Alan Oliver, has had a long and varied career with the society, covering areas including the retail network, finance, internal communications and corporate responsibility.

He says: “We are owned by our members and run for their benefit, so in every decision we take, we don’t have to consider shareholders.

“That’s one of the many differences between us and the big banks but in terms of size and scale, we are able to compete with them.

“We represent more than half of the building society sector, and are the second-largest mortgage provider. We’re proud of being a mutual and what we have achieved in terms of our aims and objectives.”

In 2012, Nationwide raised its game by launching its Living on Your Side initiative. Its five-year goals for 2017 included helping 750,000 people to be in a home of their own, empowering one million people to start saving and strengthening local communities by investing £15m in good causes as directed by customers and employees.

The results are impressive. Around 326,000 people have been helped into a home of their own, 355,000 have new savings accounts and around £4.31m has been delivered to local communities. Over 1.3 million of Nationwide’s 15 million members and 51%  of employees have also become actively involved in a variety of citizenship activities, from volunteering and raising money for charity through to championing green and diversity agendas.

Employees are now given 14 hours to volunteer in company time each year, with Nationwide matching the money they raise (up to £100 for individuals and £500 for teams).

March 2013 saw the launch of the Nationwide Big Local, giving members the chance to choose a different regional charity each month.

Since 2005, the Nationwide AGM vote has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity with a donation given for each vote received. Last year, over 850,000 members voted, resulting in a donation of over £170,000 to Macmillan Cancer Support. The funding was used to support people struggling to keep up with mortgage and rent payments.

Other beneficiaries include BBC Children in Need, Comic Relief, and in-branch fundraising for Shelter. In total, over £800,000 was raised.

Alan Oliver, Nationwide’s head of external affairs
Alan Oliver, Nationwide’s head of external affairs

Mr Oliver is delighted at the growing importance of citizenship to members and employees. He says: “We are on course to exceed all the targets which we set to get people into homes and help them to save.

“The figures still show that 30% of people in the UK have no savings. We are using every resource to engage as many people as we can and make a difference over the next few years. That includes helping charities across the UK, who have seen a 10% drop in income.”

Nationwide also works closely with organisations such as Shelter on a variety of other projects, including shared ownership schemes.

Its grant-making charity, the Nationwide Foundation, has given £500,000 to support 52 properties being brought back into use as homes for people in need in Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle.

They include care leavers, people overcoming addiction and young parents. The projects include training to enable people with few or no qualifications develop skills. Another flagship project is Numbercrunchers, a programme aimed at helping primary school children achieve their potential with the help of Nationwide volunteers.

“We have used a number of different ways of involving people and they have all been very successful,” says Mr Oliver. “We have held member talkback events up and down the country with our chief executive and chairman, engaging 15,000 customers to find out how they feel about Nationwide.

“As product innovators, we listen to our membership and put them first.”

Another success is the new Nationwide Mobile Banking App, used by 400,000 customers, which now accounts for a quarter of all our digital banking activity.

Two years ago, Nationwide joined Co-operatives UK and goes from strength to strength in terms of financial performance. In the past three years, its market share of current accounts has increased from 4.8% to 6%.

“We are benefiting from people being attracted to what we represent, which is why our market share is now 6%,” says Mr Oliver. “We consider it very significant and our goal is to get to 10% in the medium term.

“The climate is right and getting better. We have come through the worst of the downturn in great shape and key to it all is the quality of the management and the way our business is run. We believe it is our mutuality which gives us the edge.”

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