Best UK Community And Charity Bank Accounts - Everything You Need To Know And Do

UK community and charity bank accounts - step by step instructions on how to find and open the best account for you and deal with problems

UK Community And Charity Bank Accounts

Step by step instructions on how to find and open the best UK community or charity bank account for you, including dealing with the common problems charities and community groups experience when trying to open an account, with charity bank account FAQs at the end.  We have a separate guide on how to deal with charity bank account problems - advice, resources & people who can help.

SETTING UP A CHARITY BANK ACCOUNT

Here are things to think about when setting up a community or charity bank account.

Setting Up A Charity Bank Account - Key Points

As with any bank account, ask yourself:

  • 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 bank charges might there be?
  • Do I need/want:
    • Payments with a debit card and/or access to an ATM?
    • A bank savings account and, if so, how do the interest rates compare?
    • A secure/mobile banking app?
  • What else might they offer that we'd value?
    • Supporting charities or adhering to ethical guidelines.
    • Access to funding, loans or other services, such as free accounting software.

For charity savings accounts, also think about how quickly you may need to access your funds.   Instant access accounts are obviously very convenient but usually pay lower interest than a notice or fixed term deposit accounts.

Why Setting Up Your Charity Bank Account Is Important

You don't need a bank account to register a charity with the Charity Commission.  However, opening one can take a long time and very few funders will pay a grant, unless you have a bank account in your charity's name.  It's a basic anti-fraud measure.

Given that securing income is almost always a priority for any charity or community group, starting the process to open a bank account early is usually a good idea. And securing funding can be even harder, so next think about how you plan to go about that.

Find Funding To Put In Your Community Or Charity Bank Account

Listed below is just some of our free support, but you also have our AI bunnies with you every step of the way.  Just click the icon in the bottom right of any screen and tell it what you need - help with registration, finding funding, advice, expert free support, resources, guides, data, raffle prizes, whatever.   Available 24/7, they'll go and get you what you need.

Use the free Funding Finder, to find a huge range of grants and Help Finder to find lots of free fundraising support and also companies that make product/financial donations. Like (most) charity bank accounts it's free, but unlike opening a charity account it's quick, simple to use and works for any non profit, no matter how small.

Quick, simple and very effective. Nearly half our ratings are 10/10.

Find Funding, Free Help & Resources - Everything Is Free.

Register Now!

To find funding and help with any problem, for individuals and non profits, click the bunny icon in the bottom right of your screen and tell it what you need - use short questions and include key words.

BEST UK CHARITY BANK AND SAVINGS ACCOUNTS

Opening an account can be very hard work and take time but listed below are the best known banks that offer free charity, community and club bank and savings accounts.  This won't be a complete list but I have no commercial relationship with any of them and have not been paid to include them.  Where I've had feedback or personal experience of particular accounts, I've included notes but this is anecdotal/opinion and doesn't necessarily mean that other banks are not better or worse.

Best Free UK Charity And Community 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 a bank account.

The list below includes those I've heard charities and community groups 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.
  • Metro Bank. Offers 200 free transactions.  Available for unregistered charities, clubs and societies.
  • CAF Bank - charge £5 monthly fee.
  • Triodos Bank - no longer available to new customers.
  • 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.

Other Well Known UK Community And Charity Bank Accounts

Here other well-known banks that offer charity bank accounts

  • Natwest Community Bank Account.  Free up to £100k pa income.  Website says community groups, but I've heard they are now only accepting registered non-profits.
  • Bank Of Scotland Treasurers Account.  For non-profits with turnover under £50k pa.
  • RBS Community Bank Account - non-profits, with income under £100k pa.
  • Lloyds Bank - schools, credit union and treasurer (for non-profits) accounts. Free if turnover under £50k, on most accounts.
  • Santander - club, society, charity, or other not-for-profit organisation with turnover under £250k.
  • HSBC Charitable Bank Account - clubs, societies or associations, turnover is £6.5m or less, less than 4 people to add to the application and all key controllers are UK based.
    • Charges fees and I don't think I've ever heard anyone say anything good about them.
  • Barclays Community Account - not-for-profit organisations with a charitable purpose and income under £100,000.
    • In December 2023, Barclays topped the Sunday Times list for poor customer service, including charities whose bank accounts were closed.

Other UK Bank Accounts - Limited Companies & Sole Traders

  • Starling Bank - if registered with Companies House.
  • Monzo - only sole traders and limited company directors are eligible, so OK for charitable companies and CICs but not others and I can't find anything on non profit accounts, so I think it'd have to be a standard business account.
  • Revolute - no accounts available for the Public Sector, charity, private foundation or trust, or a cooperative.
  • I've heard that Mettle is very good and comes with great free accounting software but they will not support charities, CICs or other non profits.

Charity Savings & Deposit Accounts

  • Charity Bank - if ethical use of your funds is important, they use your money to make loans to charities and social enterprises
  • Charities Aid Foundation - range of notice and fixed term deposit accounts, most with a minimum investment of £1,000+. The CAF Charity Deposit Platform offers access to as many 20 banks and building societies, and 80 accounts with a minimum deposit of £50,000.
  • Virgin Money - range of instant access, notice and fixed term charity accounts.  Minimum investment for most is just £1.
  • United Trust Bank - fixed term charity bonds for registered charities.
  • Nationwide - offer Business Savings Account, if UK registered.

HOW TO OPEN A UK COMMUNITY OR CHARITY BANK ACCOUNT

What you need and what you need to do.

How Do I Set Up A Community, Club Or Charity 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.

How Do I Open A Free Community Or Charity Bank Account?

Each bank has similar, but slightly different procedures to open a free bank account.  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.

CHARITY BANK ACCOUNT FAQs AND GUIDANCE

Listed below are answers to common questions about bank accounts for charities, as well as the Charity Commission's banking guidance.

Charity and Community Bank Accounts - FAQs

  • Why have a charity bank account? Having a bank account in your charity's name helps to protect your charity and is, almost always, required by charitable funders who make grants.
  • Who can have a bank account for a charity?  To open a bank account for a charity, community group, club or society, you will need at least a constitution (club rules) and trustees (volunteers who run a charity).
  • Who can authorise opening a charity bank account?  The opening or closing of a charity bank account should be either authorised by the whole trustee body or delegated by them to a separate group who tell the trustees of any changes.
  • Which is the best UK charity bank account?  Some banks offer accounts to all types of charity and some only specific types, so first find the banks that offer accounts to your kind of charity.  Then decide what you need, such as do you want branch and/or online banking, need to make payments with a debit card and/or access to an ATM, a bank savings account and, if so, how do the interest rates compare?
  • How do I open a bank account for a charity?  To open an account, you may first need to fill in an online application and the signatories may well all be required to visit a branch with identification documents.  The bank will want a copy of your governing document and, increasingly, banks require additional information, particularly if you work overseas.  For example, policies on sanctions or money laundering.
  • Do any banks offer free banking to charities?  Traditionally, all the main banks offered free banking to charities.  However, some are now charging fees, including CAF bank and HSBC.
  • Can a charity have 2 bank accounts?  Charities can have more than one bank account, but it is important that accounts are only opened with the approval of the trustees and are controlled and monitored by them.
  • What is a bank mandate?  A bank mandate sets out who in the charity is authorised to manage the charity’s bank accounts.
  • What is a cash deposit platform?  A cash deposit platform offers a range of accounts that allows you to choose multiple accounts without having to apply directly to each bank.

Charity Commission Guidance - Charity Bank Accounts

Charity Commission guidance on trustees’ legal duties and responsibilities in respect of operating a bank account - holding, moving and receiving funds safely, including when moving those funds internationally.

Charity Commission CC8 guidance on systems of internal financial control, including internal controls for banking.

A Free One Stop Shop for Everything Your Charity Or Community Group Needs

  • Funding Finder - with categories for Core Funding and Small Charities & Community Groups.
  • Help Finder – including free fundraising help and companies that make donations.
  • Data Finder – for fundraising bids & research, impact reporting, planning and campaigning.

Plus, 100+downloadable funder lists, 40+ policies, 8 online health checks and the huge resource base.

This Resource Doesn't Constitute Professional Opinion

I am not an accountant, nor a lawyer, nor do I hold the necessary qualifications to provide financial advice and no advice can be applicable to all organisations, in all circumstances, so this resource is no more than a guide to understanding.  I've summarised the regulatory guidance and augmented this with my own experience and Internet research, but I am not competent to provide professional advice.  I have included links to the source guidance to enable you to check this yourself and, if you think you might need professional advice, use Help Finder to find pro bono support.

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