How to open a UK charity or community bank account and a review of the best

How to open a UK charity or community bank account and a review of the best

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 that some 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?
  • 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?  

You'll want some money to put in it

Charity Excellence Funding Finder is the only UK funder databse that's free to everyone and gives you click through to ahuge 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.

A review of the best

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.

If not, here are some. I have no commercial relationship with these and haven't used them personally, so this review of which might be best is based only on having heard or read positive feedback about them.

Here is a Money Facts list of charity accounts, with details on each. 

For international funding transfers, specialist providers can offer better rates than the big banks.

Documentation

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 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. 

The questions are phrased brilliantly - challenging how we prioritise our management time." Ecosystems Knowledge Network

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