Finding the Best Charity Bank Accounts

Choosing the right bank account is a crucial decision for any UK charity. The right account can help manage donations efficiently, maximise funds through interest, and support the charity’s ethical and operational goals.

My guide aims to simplify the process by providing a comprehensive overview of everything charities need to know about selecting and managing their bank and savings accounts.

With a focus on UK community and charity bank accounts, I’ve tailored this article to trustees, treasurers, and financial managers within the charity sector.

Best Bank Accounts for Charities

What are the Best Banks Accounts for Charities in the UK?

Bank Fees & ChargesVisit
Zempler Bank Business Bank AccountFree or £9/month planVisit Site
The Co-operative Charity & Community AccountFreeVisit Site
Unity Trust Bank Accountat £6/monthVisit Site
CAF Cash Account£5/monthVisit Site
NatWest Community Bank AccountFreeVisit Site
Metro Bank Community AccountFree up to 200 transactions/monthVisit Site
Virgin Money Charities AccountFree up to 10 transactions/month, 0.35% cashbackVisit Site
Lloyds Treasurer’s AccountFree day-to-day banking for <£50,000 annual turnoverVisit Site

Zempler Bank

Zempler Bank

Zempler Bank, formerly known as Cashplus, offers a flexible, digital-centric business account which includes fast online account opening, easy management of cash flow, and efficient handling of payments. Zempler Bank serves a broad range of businesses, including registered charities.

Key Features

  • 2 account types to choose from: Zempler Business Go and Zempler Business Extra.
  • Monthly fee: Free or £9 a month.
  • Transaction fees: Up to 3 months free with the Go account or 20 months free with the Extra account, then 30p each for payments and transfers. Fees for ATM withdrawals and cash deposits.
  • Cheque deposits: Not supported
  • Overdraft: Up to £2,000 for eligible organisations.
  • Cashback: 0.5% on eligible spending with the Business Extra account.
  • Extra features: Online account management, business expense cards, integration with accounting apps such as Xero, offers and rewards from partners.

Why Choose the Zempler Business Bank Account?

The Zempler Business Go account might be a good budget option for your organisation if you don’t typically make many transfers. However, the transaction fees could start to add up quickly if you make more than the 3 free payments per month.

You might consider paying the £9 a month for the Zempler Business Extra account if you make a lot of purchases, then you can benefit from the 0.5% cashback available on eligible spending.

The small overdraft facility might also be useful for some charities, but note that you can’t pay in cheques which might be a problem depending on how you tend to receive donations.

Cooperative Community Directplus Account

The Cooperative Mini Header

The Co-operative Bank’s Community Directplus offers an ethical banking solution for registered charities, community interest companies, community benefit societies, co-operatives, and credit unions.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: Free
  • Transaction fees: None.
  • Cash and cheque deposits: Free but annual limits apply.
  • Borrowing facilities: Overdrafts and loans available subject to status.
  • Extra features: Integration with accountancy software, free payment request app, support tools such as webinars and business support scheme, offers on insurance, HR, tech support and more from partners, 50% off sustainability software Zellar.
  • Online, app or in-person banking.
  • Grants: Apply for up to £1,000 from the Co-op’s Customer Donation Fund to support your project.

Why Choose the Co-operative Bank Community Directplus Account?

This award-winning account offers free everyday banking as long as you stay within annual limits.

The Co-operative gives you the option to apply for funding for special projects through its Customer Donation Fund, and you can also access resources through its Business Support for Co-ops programme.

With the option to apply for an overdraft to help you manage cash flow, and an instant access savings account paying 1.63% AER, this account could be a solid choice.

The Co-operative’s strong ethical stance may align with the values of your charity, and you’ll benefit from plus lots of extra perks like discounts on relevant services to support your organisation.

Unity Trust Business Current Account

Unity Trust Bank Mini Header

The Unity Trust Business Current Account provides a straightforward banking solution tailored for organisations of varying sizes, focusing on daily banking needs with an emphasis on social and community impact through investment in UK community projects.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: £6
  • Transaction fees: Free for organisations with turnover below £100,000, otherwise 15p per transaction for organisations with turnover between £100,000 and £2m.
  • Pay in cash and cheques on the high street: At NatWest, RBS or Ulster Bank branches (pay in up to £5,000 per day in cash and 149 cheques per paying-in slip), or cash only at the Post Office.
  • Dedicated relationship manager: For accounts with annual turnover of £2m+.
  • Overdrafts: Subject to eligibility
  • Charge card: Unity Corporate MultiPay Card helps you monitor cardholder spending and set limits.

Why Choose the Unity Trust Business Current Account?

Unity Trust Bank says it aims to provide finance to “socially-minded organisations” that share its values and want to build a better society, so it could be a good fit for your charity.

You can pay in a generous amount in cash and cheques daily on the high street through other banks’ branches and the Post Office which could make your donation management easier.

You can apply for an overdraft on this account, and there are also instant access and fixed-term business savings accounts available which are currently offering competitive interest rates (the highest is 5% AER on its 24-month fixed-term account which requires a minimum £50,000 deposit).

CAF Cash or Donate Accounts

CAF Bank Mini Header

This account from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) promises “simple charity banking”. The account is designed specifically for charities and social purpose enterprises and aims to give you everyday banking with ease and pay interest on your deposits.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: £5
  • Transaction fees: Several fees apply outside certain limits eg 75p per £100 in cash you pay in above £2,000 in a single month. £6 to receive a SWIFT payment from outside the UK above £50. £25 to send a CHAPS payment within the UK.
  • Interest paid on daily credit balances: 0.2% AER, credited each quarter.
  • Business Mastercard for payments and withdrawals.
  • Cash and cheque deposits: At HSBC and RBS branches and the Post Office.
  • Overdraft: Subject to credit assessment.
  • Dual authorisation: For extra secure transactions

Why Choose the CAF Cash Account?

This account is specifically designed for charities and social enterprises of different sizes, and it has a lot to recommend it.

One appealing feature is the ability to earn interest on your cash on deposit, a low monthly fee, and an emphasis on security features. You can also use HSBC and RBS bank branches to pay in donations on the high street.

Depending on how you use your account, however, transaction fees could quickly mount up. You’ll be charged hefty fees for international transfers above certain limits, for example, and for paying in more than £2,000 a month in cash.

It’s worth studying the tariff of charges carefully before you commit to be sure this account will pay off for your organisation.

Natwest Community Bank Account

NatWest Mini Header

The NatWest Community Account aims to offers a comprehensive banking solution for not-for-profit entities, including charities, clubs, and societies.

It provides free banking for those with annual turnover below £100,000. At least one applicant must be an existing NatWest personal or business customer to be eligible for this account.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: Free
  • Transaction fees: Free.
  • Cash and cheque deposits: Cheques through mobile app, cash and cheques at NatWest branches, deposit cash ATMs, and the Post Office.
  • Support: NatWest could offer you support and alternative funding through its Social and Community Capital charity.
  • Signatories: Minimum two, maximum four signatories can be added to the account.
  • Perks: Free accounting software from FreeAgent.

Why choose the NatWest Community Bank Account?

The NatWest Community Bank Account could be worth considering if you have a small community group, club, charity or religious organisation and you want straightforward banking from a high street bank. Your day-to-day banking is free if your turnover is below £100,000, otherwise you’ll be moved to a standard business account where other charges may apply.

Note that currently customers are waiting longer than normal to open a new account – NatWest says the process takes three to four weeks once it has all the information it needs.

Metro Bank Community Account

Metro Bank Mini Header

Metro Bank promises clear and simple charges with no surprises on this account which is suitable for UK-based clubs, societies and charities with turnover below £250,000 a year.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: Free
  • Transactions fees: 200-free free transactions per month, then 30p each. Free cash withdrawals and deposits up to £10,000 per month, then charged at 1%. No foreign transaction fees in Europe.
  • Extra features: Free giant cheques for prizes or fundraising.
  • Account holders: Three maximum
  • Overdraft: Subject to status

Why Choose the Metro Bank Community Account?

Metro Bank’s Community Account is designed to support small clubs, societies and charities with free everyday banking and no hidden fees. You get 200 fee-free transactions per month with no monthly fee attached to the account. You can bank online, through the app, in one of its 76 branches, or on the phone. This account does not pay interest on your balances, unlike some others, but you can open a separate Community Fixed Term Deposit Account and earn 3.7% if you leave the money untouched for a year. Note that Metro Bank does not currently allow you to set up direct debits which collect payments from other accounts.

Virgin Money Charities Account

Virgin Money Mini Header

Virgin Money’s Charities Account offers free day-to-day banking for registered charities with turnover below £1m a year, with no monthly account fee and the ability to earn cashback.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: Free up to 10 transactions per month, then £6.50 per month plus transaction fees.
  • Transaction fees: Free up to 10 transactions per month, then charges apply from 30p per transaction.
  • Cashback: Earn 0.35% cashback on debit card transactions
  • Cash and cheque deposits: Deposit cheques through the app.
  • Perks: 3 months of QuickBooks of Xero fee-free, merchant discounts with Mastercard Business Savings, money management tools.

Why Choose the Virgin Money Charities Choice Account?

The Virgin Money Charities Choice Account focuses on giving you a seamless digital experience, with an app and online banking function that are intuitive to use, plus money management tools to help you keep on top of your organisation’s finances. This account integrates easily with Xero, Quickbooks and other accounting software, for example. The ability to earn cashback on all your debit card spending is a nice perk, and you can avoid monthly or individual transaction fees by keeping your transactions below 10 per month. Charities with turnover above £1m can still bank with Virgin but will pay a £6.50 monthly account fee. Note that you must be a registered charity to qualify for this account.

Lloyds Treasurer Account

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The Lloyds Treasurer’s Account is designed for non-profit organisations such as charities, churches, clubs, and societies. It promises to be an easy-to-manage account offering free day-to-day banking for organisations with annual turnover below £50,000.

Key Features

  • Monthly fee: Free
  • Transaction fees: Free
  • Additional signatories: Yes, can be added
  • Overdraft: No

Why Choose the Lloyds Treasurer’s Account?

This account is designed to provide easy and efficient day-to-day banking without a monthly fee.

Your organisation needs to have an annual turnover of less than £50,000 to qualify for this account, above this level you can apply for the Lloyds Business Current Account.

This account might appeal to you if you want a simple account which allows you to manage your banking with ease, from an established provider.

With no monthly or annual fee, and no fees and charges for transactions, this is a good all-rounder account for small charities.

What is a Charity Bank Account?

A charity bank account is a specialised account designed to meet the specific needs of charities, non-profit organisations, and community groups.

These accounts often come with features such as:

  • Interest-Bearing Options: Select accounts offer competitive interest rates on balances, directly supporting fund growth.
  • Ethical Banking Choices: These accounts align with charity values, supporting social, environmental, and ethical initiatives through banking practices.
  • Grant and Funding Support: Some banks extend services to include guidance and access to potential grants and funding sources.

To open a charity bank account in the UK, you’ll typically need to provide proof of charitable status, such as registration with the Charity Commission (for England and Wales), the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. You’ll usually need identification documents for trustees and signatories, and details of the charity’s structure and operations.

What Type of Bank Account Should a Charity Have?

The type of bank account a charity requires will depend on its legal structure. If your organisation is registered as a charity, you’ll want a dedicated charity bank account offering tailored benefits for non-profit operations. For charities registered as limited companies, a normal business bank account should be sufficient.

Are There Charity Bank Account Rules?

Charity bank accounts are subject to specific rules and considerations, essential for the proper management and safeguarding of funds. Here are the key points:

Legal Duty of Trustees: Trustees have a legal responsibility to safeguard the charity’s funds as outlined by the Charity Commission. This includes ensuring that the charity’s money is used for its intended purposes and choosing appropriate banking services.

Choosing a Bank Account: Charities have the flexibility to choose any bank or building society for their accounts, as long as that institution accepts applications from charities. They should select an institution that meets their operational needs and helps in effectively delivering their services.

Specific Accounts for Charities: Many banks offer accounts tailored for charities, potentially offering benefits such as receiving interest before tax is deducted and lower charges than standard business accounts.

Banking Policy and Procedures: Charities may establish policies on banking arrangements, including the number and location of bank accounts. Trustees must adhere to these policies, ensuring they comply with the charity’s operational and financial management requirements.

Electronic Banking: With the prevalence of electronic banking, charities must implement robust procedures to protect their accounts. Charities are often targets for fraud, so they should prioritise transation security, possibly through dual authorisation for payments and transfers.

How to Open a UK Community or Charity Bank Account

Opening a UK community or charity bank account is usually a straightforward process. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow:

  1. Prepare Your Application: Collect all necessary documents. This typically includes:
    1. Proof of charity status, such as a registration certificate from the Charity Commission or OSCR. 
    2. Identification and proof of address for trustees and anyone else who will be authorised to operate the account. 
    3. A governing document such as a constitution, trust deed, or articles of association. 
    4. A board resolution authorising the opening of the bank account and listing the authorised signatories.
  2. Apply Online or In-Person: While many banks allow you to start the application process online, you might need to complete it in person or over the phone, especially if additional documentation is required.
  3. Verification Process: The bank will verify the documents you provide and may ask for additional information to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.
  4. Account Activation: Once your application is approved and all verifications are complete, the bank will activate your account. Depending on the bank, this process can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.
  5. Set Up Online Access and Payments: After activation, set up online banking, if available, and arrange for any necessary direct debits, standing orders, or merchant services for handling donations.

Are there Fee-Free Charity Bank Accounts?

Yes, there are several fee-free charity bank accounts:

  1. Zempler Bank Business offers a free account option for registered charities.
  2. The Co-operative Bank Community Directplus Account has no monthly fee or charges for transactions.
  3. NatWest Community Bank Account has no monthly fee when annual turnover is less than £100,000. It offers free transfers, card payments, cash and cheque services.
  4. Metro Bank Community Current Account is free and offers 200 free transactions per month.
  5. Virgin Money Charities Choice Account is free for registered charities with annual turnover less than £1m. It offers unlimited free cash deposits and withdrawals.
  6. Lloyds Treasurer’s Account is free for non-profits with turnover of less than £50,000 per year. It offers free day-to-day banking including cash and cheque management.
  7. Barclays offers business accounts such as its Community Account for non-profit organisations with a charitable purpose and turnover below £100,000 but it says current account opening times are longer than usual.
  8. Santander Treasurer’s Current Account is free for clubs, societies and charities that turnover less than £250,000 per year. It offers free cash and cheque deposits and withdrawals.

Which Bank Accounts are Best for Non-Registered Charities?

Various banks in the UK offer dedicated accounts for non-registered charities or community groups, as follows:

  • NatWest Community Account
  • Lloyds Bank Treasurer’s Account
  • Santander Treasurer’s Current Account
  • Wave Community Bank
  • Metro Bank Community Current Account
  • Royal Bank of Scotland Community Account
  • Bank of Scotland Treasurer’s Account

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