What you need to think about when opening or setting up a free UK charity bank or savings account for your charity, community group, club or society, how to do that and a review of the best.
Most UK banks and building societies offer free charity, community group and club 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 a free bank account and some banks have paused opening charity and community accounts, because of the impact of Covid.
As with any bank account, some things to think about:
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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.
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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.
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.
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. Ebury were very popular, but I've seen (Nov 21) some negative comments about them in charity Facebook groups. An alternative option is Wise, but there are lots of others.
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:
You will also need a copy of you governing document/constitution.
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:
You should complete these and bring these with you to your appointment, together with your constitution.
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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