Ulster Bank – Differentiating ourselves as a valued-led, socially conscious bank




Company Description:
Ulster Bank Group is one of Ireland’s largest banks and a subsidiary of RBS group. Across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank Group employs 5,800 staff and delivers a range of financial services to over 1.9 million customers through its branch, telephone and online channels.


Business Issue: 

Many of Ulster Bank’s most valued business clients are charities and social enterprises.  We wanted to attract new business from this sector to grow our share of deposits and current accounts.  Our research showed that charities face real challenges today, with reduced funding and increased demand for their services.  They want a banking partner offering value for money and excellent customer service.  Equally, they favour a bank which supports their strong community values.


Solution Applied:

In partnership with The Wheel, the representative body that supports Ireland’s Not-for-Profit sector, we co-created a new proposition tailored to meet the needs of their members.  The proposition included:

  • a suite of free and discounted banking services to deliver value for money to Not-for-Profits:
  • accredited training for 40 Ulster Bank relationship managers to meet the needs of NFP clients;
  • a range of networking, learning and business development events to help build the capacity of the sector to adapt and grow their businesses in a challenging environment.


In communicating these benefits we used a cause marketing approach – Enabling Social Impactto differentiate ourselves as a values-led, socially conscious bank.  Ulster Bank’s existing strong community heritage and generous Charitable Giving Schemes served to underpin our credentials as a banking partner of choice for the sector.  The initiative was marketed using multiple channels of communication including media engagement and other PR opportunities, branding and face-to-face engagement at Wheel training events, and social media promotion through Skype, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.  Enabling Social Impact is a strong example of how organisations with a social purpose can engage productively with private businesses to generate mutual and lasting business benefits.


Company Benefits:

  • Our relationship managers have been able to develop a deeper level of business engagement with prospective clients than traditional sponsorships achieve.
  • We have gained from The Wheel’s expertise and have been able to reach more than 1,200 leaders and key decision makers in Ireland’s major charities.
  • We have successfully positioned our business in a credible and authentic way to the sector, building long-term, profitable business relationships for Ulster Bank.
  • Improved perceptions of Ulster Bank as a socially responsible business with specialist expertise in the Not-for-Profit sector and a proven heritage of supporting charities and community causes.


Stakeholder Benefits:

  • Over the last 2 years our partnership has enabled The Wheel to host over 30 learning and networking events to help build the capacity of its members.
  • Many prospective and existing clients benefit from Ulster Bank’s Payroll Giving, Community Cashback and ATM Giving schemes – and all have equal access to funding from those schemes. These are positive attributes that matter to the Not-for-Profit sector we seek to attract.
  • Charities have been able to build essential skills, develop new business insights, network with a supportive group of peers and share learning – with the agenda driven by themselves.
  • ·         Charities have also been able to avail of free and discounted banking services and have access to 40 professionally trained Ulster Bank relationship managers for support and advice.



The NFP sector is large and varied, and no ‘one size fits all’ approach will be successful.



Try to find an authentic space where social value meets business purpose.  Use a thoughtful marketing approach.  Ultimately, it’s about greater depth of engagement, mutual trust and collaboration and taking a long-term view rather than striving for the quick news headline or the product push.


Departments Involved:  

Group Communications and Corporate Banking.


Solution Champion:  

Pauline McKiernan, Sustainability & Community Affairs Manager.  Email: pauline.mckiernan@ulsterbank.com