City Banking Research Guide

In November, Standing Rock leadership re-asserted the call to target the investors of the Dakota Access Pipeline: “Take bold action in your local communities to force investors to divest from the project,” wrote Honor the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network and Camp of the Sacred Stones in a joint statement.

Since then banners have been dropped from stadiums, celebrities have closed their accounts and individuals have divested $58 million from the banks behind the project. And, on February 7th, the City of Seattle became the first city to break ties with a bank because of its funding of the Dakota Access Pipeline -- delivering a $3 billion blow to Wells Fargo.

With the Federal Government’s approval of the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, it is now more important than ever that we pressure the banks who are funding this immoral and dangerous project to cancel their contracts with the pipeline and #DefundDAPL.

This movement is rising in support of indigenous rights and the protection of water and our shared climate. It’s time to harness our outrage into local organizing for divestment from the banks that are causing this harm.

To do that, we need your help with some simple research:

Which cities and towns are doing any banking of any kind with the funders of the Dakota Access Pipeline?

Information we are collecting

Which bank(s) do cities and towns use?

In order to get cities, towns and counties to move their money from banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline we need to know who they bank with.

If your city uses any of the banks on this list they are connected to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and we want to tell the world. In particular we are looking for cities who bank with Citibank and Wells Fargo. These two banks are key players in the last outstanding loan for the pipeline.

Some cities, towns and counties will use more than one bank for different accounts. However, most have their largest bank contracts for “depository services”. So your first ask will be what bank they use for “depository services.”

How to get started

1. Pick a City or County to Call

Look at this spreadsheet to see which cities we already have information for. Pick one or more cities who aren’t already listed on the spreadsheet to research. If the spreadsheet below doesn't load you can open it here.

Defund DAPL Research Report (one survey for each city) (Responses)

2. Find the contact information for that City/County’s Finance or Treasury Department (hint: phone numbers are best!)

In most cases the city staff who have the information we’re looking for are in the Finance or Treasury department. The name of this department and the particular staff person may vary from city to city.

3. Tips for How to find this info:

      • On most city webpages you can find a page for the finance or treasury department with contact information. Here’s an example from Madison, WI:
      • If you can’t find a page for this department the city’s webpage may have a directory. Here’s another example from Madison, WI:
      • If you can’t find the department’s contact information after 10 or 15 minutes you can always just call City Hall and ask to be transferred to the Finance department.

4. Make A Call!

Pick up the phone and make a call! You can use the script below. Please be polite with the city employee you talk too. Don’t forget to take notes on the information you get. ** Scroll down for Sample Script **

5. Report Your Results

Report your results using this form. Even if you weren’t able to find the information record what you were told by city employees in the appropriate box.

6. Pick another City and do it again!

There are thousands of municipalities in the United States the more data we can collect the greater the impact we can have. If you don’t know who to call search for a list of cities in your county, or call every county finance department in your state.

Have questions? Feedback on how this is going? E-Mail us at You can also check out our FAQ

Be creative and thank you for your help!

Sample Script

We’re calling out of the blue asking for info so remember to “smile while you dial!” :D

Hello, my name is ____, how are you today? … Great!

I’m doing some research on banking arrangements with cities and municipalities.

Can you tell me what bank [CITY NAME] uses for its depository services?

If they’re not sure what you mean by “depository services”, follow up question could be:

“Do you know how I could find out which banks or financial firms the city of CITY NAME has a relationship with for any services?

Examples of specific services:

    • Employee payroll (that’s what Seattle had with Wells Fargo)
    • depository services,
    • vault services,return item processing,
    • transaction research,
    • daily and monthly reporting by both paper and electronic methods,
    • ACH processing,
    • wire processing,
    • check processing,
    • account reconciliation and maintenance,
    • same day availability of funds, and
    • Any other banking services...

AFTER YOU CALL you can try to find where the city banks using some creative googling. The information may be available online. You can search “CITY NAME + Depository Services” or “CITY NAME + Wells Fargo” ... or Citibank”. For example, a search like that may turn up this information like the City of Seattle’s banking services:

Don't forget to report your results here!