The GLS Bank was the world's first social and ecological full service bank. It was founded in 1974 and originally focused on ecologic, social and cultural projects, such as anthroposophic schools, Demeter farms and communal living projects. Over time, the focus has widened, thus including other independent schools (e.g. Montessori schools) and organic farms into its portfolio. After Chernobyl, its activities extended further to include renewable energies and like projects, growing rapidly. In 2003, GLS Bank took over the activities of Ökobank, an ethically and ecologically oriented bank in Germany, as weell as IntegraBank in 2008.
GLS Bank cooperates closely with the GLS Treuhand e.V. Bochum and the GLS Beteiligungsaktiengesellschaft.
The GLS Treuhand e.V. (Charitable Trust Foundation), founded in 1961, is an association of more than 370 charity organization which acts as a charitable trust administrating various foundations and supporting the social, ecological and cultural aims of its charitable member-organizations.
The GLS Beteiligungsaktiengesellschaft (BAG) was founded in 1995 and is a subsidiary owned by GLS Bank, whose objective is to help cooperating companies in finding equity capital. BAG has Funds for renewable energy and the social economy.
As the financial crisis has created a strong demand for ethical banking products, GLS Bank has grown strongly and now operates in 7 branches in Germany.