Value-Driven Banking: Mighty Deposits Helps Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
Sophia Wagner, AB ’18, co-founder, was a sophomore at the University of Chicago when she got involved with Mighty Deposits – a comparison website for banks that enables users to find the ones that best represent their values.
The site profiles all 5,200 banks in the United States based on public data released quarterly by the government. Using filters on the site for specific “causes,” users can find banks that, for instance, are certified for financing women’s equity, small businesses, Black-American equity, and more. “One of our goals is to help the banking industry evolve to better serve all of us who fund it, which is why we help people see what banks do with their money, and then facilitate the sharing of insights about the kinds of things people want their bank to support,” Wagner said.
She first met with Megan Hryndza, co-founder and CEO, in 2016 while Hryndza was part of the Polsky Incubator. “I quickly realized that banks had a huge influence on virtually everything I cared about,” Wagner said, “whether that was environmental justice, or supporting small businesses in my hometown, or racial equity.”
During her senior year, Wagner and Hryndza went through the 2018 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC). They entered the SNVC with a few goals in mind: to get comfortable pitching the company and to look critically at their business model. “That experience helped us be confident in the path that we needed to pursue with the product, that we were going to build over the next year and a half or so,” Wagner said.
Mighty’s website launched in February 2020, just a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic. “In a way,” Wagner noted, “everything with the pandemic has reaffirmed exactly why we built the site.” They noticed a correlation between what users were searching for on the site with what was happening in America. In May, the most searched topic on Mighty was for banks that supported small businesses. During the summer months, the top search was for Black-owned banks. “It’s been positive to see as we as a country are experiencing different issues in 2020, that Mighty is a tool that allows people to find a bank that’s meeting them where they’re at with regard to what they want to support,” said Wagner.
In the spring, the co-founders noticed that there wasn’t a uniform database for which banks still accepted Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Hryndza and Wagner did additional research to add a filter to the site to help users find SBA loans. They also had (and still have) one-on-one meetings with individuals to help them find the right banking options. Mighty is primarily an online platform, so these interactions are “rewarding” for Wagner, she said, adding that these meetings allow them to gain user feedback as they look to continually evolve and help people find banks with similar values.
When working with banks, they’ve found that most are surprised by what’s in their public data and how their community impact compares to others. “It’s exciting to be presenting something new and to help shape the conversation about how banks can quantify what they’re actually doing for communities,” Wagner said. The site offers banks the opportunity for a featured profile. This means they can provide Mighty with more than just public data, but can add community stories, information about the mobile app, or their branches. According to Wagner, the banks with featured profiles have been the most viewed on the site.
Mighty has a lot in the works and recently, added a credit union listing. “That’s been our most highly demanded feature ever since launching,” Wagner noted. Now, users can compare credit unions the same way they can compare banks. Another demanded feature is a fossil fuel financing filter. There’s no uniform public way for banks to report their energy lending, so, since the spring, Mighty has asked them to volunteer this information.
“If anyone needs help taking action with aligning their money with their values, we’re always here to help,” Wagner added. “Banking is a really powerful way to take an individual action towards justice and also be contributing to systemic change.”