The Best Free UK Charity, Community and Club Bank Account Bank And Savings Accounts and How To Set Yours Up

What you need to think about when opening or setting up a free UK bank account for your charity, community group, club or society, how to do that and a review of the best.

How To Choose The Best Charity Or Community Bank Account

Most banks and building societies offer free charity and community bank accounts.  It's always been a bit of a challenge with some but, since Covid, it has become much more difficult. Be aware it can take a long time to open an account and some banks have paused opening charity and community accounts, because of the impact of Covid.   

As with any account, some things to think about:

  • Do I want branch and/or online banking?
    • For example, if you need to regularly bank collection tin, or event money, you'll want access to a local bank branch. 
  • What charges might there be?
  • Do I need/want:
    • Payments with a debit card and/or access to an ATM?
    • A deposit account and, if so, how do the interest rates compare?
    • A secure/mobile banking app?  

Finding Funding To Put In Your Bank Account

Charity Excellence Funding Finder is the only major UK funder database that's free to everyone and gives you click through to a huge range of funders and there are also 50+ downloadable funder lists.

And why pay, when you can get it for free?  There are 200+ links to organisations that provide charities with free goods and services.  Here are some.  

It does a lot more than that and everything is free, so Register Now.

Best Free Charity Bank Accounts

If you're known at your local branch, particularly, if you're an existing business customer, that might make it a bit easier to open an account.

The list below includes those I've heard charities speak well of.  However, that doesn't mean I'm able to endorse them, or that the others I've listed below them won't provide you with a good service.   

  • Co-operative Bank.  If you open a Community Directplus account you can apply for funding of up to £1,000 from their Co-operative Bank; Customer Donation Fund
  • Starling Bank - if registered with Companies House. 
  • Metro Bank. Offers 200 free transactions.  Available for unregistered charities, clubs and societies.
  • CAF Bank - charge £8 monthly fee. 
  • Triodos Bank - applications were on hold as at 20 August 2021.
  • Charity Bank - savings account.  Invests its funds in other charities and social enterprises. 
  • Triodos Bank - accounts and services for charities, including loans, savings, investments and a current account.  You must have turnover of £50k or more. 

Here other well known ones:

The banks above are not in any particular order and I have no commercial relationship with any of them and have not been paid to include them.  

If you're thinking of banking with HSBC, be aware that they will be introducing a range of charges for charity and community bank accounts from Noverber 2021. 

Problems In Opening A Bank Account

I've been advised of instances where bank staff have refused an account, on fairly dubious grounds, such as 'you have to be a registered charity', when you don't.  I suggest checking the bank's charity/community account information on their website, before you approach them.  

I've also been advised of instances where accounts have been refused, on risk grounds, because they work in parts of the world, such as Africa and Southern Asia.  Besides, for international funding transfers, specialist providers can offer better rates than the big banks, so if you need to do so, it might be better to apply just for UK banking.

What You Need To Set Up A Charity Or Community Bank Account

This is the kind of documentation you may have to provide. 

Each of the signatories - 2 documents: one to prove identity and one to their address.

To prove your identify, you need your passport, driving licence or identity card (if you’re an EU national).

You’ll also have to prove your address by providing another document.  Every bank has its own list of what documents are acceptable as proof of address. Broadly speaking, however, these include:

  • a tenancy agreement or mortgage statement;
  • a recent electricity or gas bill (less than 3 months old);
  • a recent (less than 3 months old) bank or credit card statement that’s not printed off the internet; or
  • a current council tax bill.

You will also need a copy of you governing document/constitution.

Opening Your Bank Account

Each bank has similar, but slightly different procedures.  Here are some examples of what you might expect.  

There must be a minimum of 2 of signatories on the account.

Some banks have online account registration but, if not, contact your local branch and book an appointment.

Some require all of the signatories to attend the appointment together, with their proof of identify and address documents above.

Ahead of your appointment, Barclays will e mail you:

  • A personal details form – sometimes for all trustees, not just the signatories.
  • A charity or community account opening form.
  • A letter of intent.
  • An appointment of banker’s form.

You should complete these and bring these with you to your appointment, together with your constitution.

Here's How To Get Even More Money

If you haven't thought about it yet, you can claim Gift Aid by registering your charity, community group or sports club with HMRC.  This DIY guide gives you everything you need to do that yourself and at no cost.  And here's a guide to the various kinds of Gift Aid how to claim these, with links to everything you need to claim yours. 

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