I don't make it a habit of making excuses for profit making corporations. Particularly, not in these times. Countless companies would not receive as much as a kind word or mention from me today, given the damage they have heaped on our larger economy, not to mention individual homes, and the lives of people within them. And then there are the leadership standouts. One I talk about in my bestselling business book Love Leadership, was Wells Fargo, and Wells Fargo Mortgage. I spoke about some of their very ethical actions I was personally aware of from the past, and even right at the beginning of the engulfing subprime mortgage crisis.
But today, I have a very real and tangible example of Wells Fargo's leadership, and it involves the organization I founded, Operation HOPE. As a result of a new and innovative partnership we announced this week, we now have the ability to adequately and sustainably help and service the thousands of needy individuals who call our Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline monthly (more than 150,000 consumer calls in total, to date).
While our Mortgage HOPE Crisis Hotline has helped modify and restructure more than $450 million in subprime mortgages, and address the needs of more than 150,000 American consumers in need, for the most part we have had to seek funding to support this same hotline from limited and decreasing government sources, and occasional one-time grants from corporations and banks. Wells Fargo, recognizing that many of the customers we were assisting were also either Wells Fargo Mortgage customers, or loans being services under contract by Wells Fargo for others, decided to do something radical; re-imagine how they interact with nonprofit organizations, like Operation HOPE, that are in-turn dealing with their customers. The result was and is a first of its kind corporate-nonprofit partnership, of which Operation HOPE is the leading first.
Under this new agreement, which is annual, renewing and ongoing (meaning sustainable over time), Operation HOPE is compensated for each Wells Fargo customer we assist, and more so, even our worthwhile efforts to assist borrowers we are not ultimately successful in modifying a mortgage for — is recognized and financially supported. Our work and efforts on behalf of others is being valued beyond a one-time charitable contribution, and this is a powerful step in the right direction.
And so, while this is still at its core a hands-length relationship between a commercial bank and an independent nonprofit organization, it also represents one of the first times that a bank respects and acknowledges the true and valuable contribution that the nonprofit organization makes to the bank's business, its customer base, and ultimately, its bottom line.
Wells Fargo may not be a perfect institution, but today they did prove themselves worthy to be called a leadership institution, in the midst of a crisis. For this, I commend them.
If we are going to criticize banks and corporations when they do wrong, we should also commend them when excel and do well. This is just one of those instances.
You can read about the complete Wells Fargo-Operation HOPE partnership alliance here.
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass) the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and a Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum.