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M&T, First Niagara donations topped $7 million in region last year

M&T Bank Corp. and First Niagara Financial Group made more than $7 million in total contributions in the region last year, a reminder of their community impact as First Niagara heads toward purchase by KeyCorp.

M&T reported donating more than $5.5 million in nine Western New York counties, out of the $22 million it contributed across its entire territory.

M&T supports efforts including the Buffalo Promise Neighborhood initiative, as well as a variety of groups that support city neighborhoods, and cultural institutions such as museums.

First Niagara reported $1.7 million in charitable grants and donations to Western New York organizations, among $8 million the bank donated across its four-state territory.

M&T said its employees spent more than 307,000 hours volunteering in their communities last year, across the bank’s footprint. First Niagara said its employees logged 57,000 volunteer hours in 2015.

M&T and First Niagara rank No. 1 and 2, respectively, in deposit market share in the Buffalo Niagara region. The donations reflect their local reach beyond their employment, investment and spending on services.

Cleveland-based KeyCorp – which is No. 3 in area deposit market share – hopes to complete its $4.1 billion deal for First Niagara in the third quarter. The purchase would mark the end of First Niagara as a Buffalo-headquartered company.

The deal has raised questions about the effect on First Niagara’s jobs and branches, as well as charitable donations made through organizations such as the First Niagara Foundation. First Niagara is known for supporting programs tied to youth mentoring and economic development initiatives to bolster start-ups, among other recipients.

KeyCorp has pledged to contribute $20 million to the First Niagara Foundation “to continue its important community initiatives,” and to ensure the foundation would have office space locally. (KeyCorp also funds the KeyBank Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization formed in 1969.)

KeyCorp said it does not break out its philanthropic giving on a market-by-market basis, but nationally, it donated about $18 million to non-profits in the form of philanthropy, corporate contributions and volunteering. Locally, it has made grants to support Say Yes to Education, a nursing workforce diversity scholarship at D’Youville College, and a new mother education center at Women and Children’s Hospital.

In the Buffalo area, KeyCorp said 562 employees volunteered 3,392 hours last year.