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
Cashplus Business Bank AccountFree or £9/month planVisit Cashplus
The Co-operative Charity & Community AccountFree for certain transactionsVisit The Co-operative Bank
Unity Trust Bank AccountStarts at £6/monthVisit Unity Trust Bank
CAF Cash Account£8/monthVisit CAF Bank
NatWest Community Bank AccountFree for eligible customersVisit NatWest
Metro Bank Community AccountFree up to 200 transactions/monthVisit Metro Bank
Virgin Money Charities AccountUnlimited free transactions, 0.35% cashbackVisit Virgin Money
Lloyds Treasurer’s AccountFree day-to-day banking for <£50,000 annual turnoverVisit Lloyds Bank

Cashplus Bank

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Cashplus Bank offers a flexible, digital-centric business account focused on streamlining banking operations with features like instant online account opening, easy management of cash flow, and efficient handling of payments. They are open to serving a broad range of businesses, including registered charities.

  • Monthly Fee: Options range from a free basic account to £9 for the Go account.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: Cash deposits are available at UK Post Offices up to a limit of £5,000 in total per day (minimum £10). Cheque deposits are not supported.
  • Fees for Transactions: The Go account offers up to 20 free monthly payments before applying a 30p charge. There are fees for cash deposits and ATM withdrawals both in the UK and abroad, and there are no foreign exchange transaction fees
  • Customer Service: Offers dedicated support, including online and telephone assistance Monday to Friday, from 8 am to 8 pm, and Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm.
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Up to £2,000 for eligible businesses.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority, with deposits protected up to £85,000 by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
  • Additional Benefits: Includes features like online account management, business expense cards, and potentially other business services to support growth and operational needs.

Cooperative Community Directplus Account

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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, emphasizing support for social and community projects. They’ve been awarded the title of ‘Best Charity Banking Provider’ by Moneyfacts 8 years in a row.

  • Monthly Fee: Free everyday banking, with annual limits applied to maintain the free service.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: Allows for cash and cheque deposits, with specifics on fees and limits detailed in their tariff guide.
  • Interest Rate: N/A
  • Fees for Transactions: No monthly service fees. Free automated and manual credits and debits. Free cash and cheque deposits and withdrawals. Cash exchanged is charged at £1.60 per £100.
  • Donation Management: Offers up to £1,000 in grants from the Customer Donation Fund to support eligible projects, highlighting its commitment to supporting community initiatives.
  • Customer Service: UK-based help and support, including access to specialist business advisors and an array of support tools like free webinars and articles.
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Provides the option to apply for overdrafts during the account application process for cash flow and short-term borrowing needs.
  • Regulatory Compliance: The Co-operative Bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, ensuring a secure and regulated banking environment.
  • Additional Benefits: Offers free software integration, a payment request app, and a 50% discount on a Zellar subscription to support organisations in achieving their sustainability goals.

Unity Trust Business Current Account

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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.

  • Monthly Fee: Charges start from £6 a month, with fees structured according to three tiers based on annual account turnover.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: Customers can pay in cash and cheques at local NatWest, RBS, and Ulster Bank branches, and cash only at Post Offices, facilitating easy and convenient transactions.
  • Interest Rate: N/A
  • Fees for Transactions: Transaction fees are waived, highlighting a commitment to cost-effective banking, although charges for additional services like international payments and duplicate statements apply.
  • Donation Management: Not directly mentioned, but the bank’s investment in social and community projects indicates a broader commitment to positive impact, potentially aligning with organisations focused on social change.
  • Customer Service: Offers UK-based call support and online banking, with additional access to a Relationship Manager for eligible customers (annual turnover of more than £2,000,000).
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Overdrafts are available, subject to eligibility criteria.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Unity Trust Bank is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, ensuring a secure banking environment with protection for deposits up to £85,000 by the FSCS.
  • Additional Benefits: Includes features like 24/7 online banking, the Unity Corporate MultiPay Card for managing expenses. You can also receive one-to-one support from a Relationship Manager* – a sector specialist who takes the time to get to know your organisation.

CAF Cash or Donate Accounts

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The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) supports charities by connecting them with necessary funds and providing financial management services through CAF Bank. Owned by CAF, the bank is designed to meet the specific needs of charities and social purpose organizations, emphasizing secure and efficient financial management to allow these entities to focus on their core missions.

  • Monthly Fee: Charges start from £6 a month, with fees structured according to three tiers based on annual account turnover.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: Customers can pay in cash and cheques at local NatWest, RBS, and Ulster Bank branches, and cash only at Post Offices, facilitating easy and convenient transactions.
  • Fees for Transactions: Transaction fees are waived, highlighting a commitment to cost-effective banking, although charges for additional services like international payments and duplicate statements apply.
  • Interest: Pays interest of 0.20% gross1/AER2 (variable3) on your daily credit balances
  • Donation Management: Get donations online or offline, including one-off donations via credit card/debit card/PayPal or regular donations via Direct Debit. Reduce your admin by having CAF claim the Gift Aid for you.
  • Customer Service: UK-based Customer Service team is available to help you Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Overdrafts are available, subject to eligibility criteria.
  • Regulatory Compliance: CAF Bank Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (FRN 204451).
  • Additional Benefits: Run reports on your campaigns, donors and donations.

Natwest Community Bank Account

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The NatWest Community Account offers a comprehensive banking solution for not-for-profit entities, including charities, clubs, and societies. At least one applicant must be an existing NatWest personal or business customer.

It provides free banking for those with an annual turnover under £100,000, award-winning online accounting software, and 24/7 access to online and mobile banking, catering specifically to the financial management needs of non-profit organisations.

  • Monthly Fee: The NatWest Community Account offers free banking for not-for-profit organisations with an annual credit turnover of less than £100,000. If the turnover exceeds this limit, the account will be moved to a Standard Tariff with applicable fees and charges.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: Account holders can utilise chequebooks and paying-in books, facilitating the management of cash and cheque transactions efficiently.
  • Interest Rate: N/A
  • Fees for Transactions: Everyday transactions are free for eligible accounts; however, charges for unarranged overdrafts, Bankline, international payments, and additional services are not covered under the free banking offer.
  • Donation Management: While not explicitly mentioned, the account is designed for charities, clubs, and societies, indicating suitability for managing donations and not-for-profit finances.
  • Customer Service: Offers 24/7 Online Banking and Phone Banking support, inside the Mobile Banking app.
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Information about overdrafts or loan facilities is not directly provided, focusing instead on the account’s functionality for everyday banking and transaction management.
  • Regulatory Compliance: NatWest is a major banking institution regulated by UK authorities, offering a secure environment for banking activities, though specific regulatory details in this context are not provided.
  • Additional Benefits: Access to FreeAgent Accounting Software, Digital Signatures

Metro Bank Community Account

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The Metro Bank Community Current Account is designed to support the financial needs of clubs, societies, and charities, facilitating the management of funds with flexibility and convenience. It offers multiple banking options including online, in-store, over the phone, or through the app, tailored to customer preferences.

  • Monthly Fee: Metro Bank’s Community Current Account is available without a monthly maintenance fee, promoting cost-effective banking for clubs, societies, and charities. This approach supports financial management without the burden of regular fees.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: Account holders are encouraged to save money with 200 fee-free transactions each month, including cash and cheque deposits, which aligns with the operational needs of not-for-profit organisations.
  • Interest Rate: N/A
  • Fees for Transactions: Beyond the 200 fee-free transactions, Metro Bank provides a clear outline of charges for additional services, ensuring transparency. However, specific fees for excess transactions and other services are not explicitly detailed in the provided information.
  • Donation Management: The provision of free giant cheques for charity donations or prizes underlines the account’s suitability for managing donations and supporting the visibility of charitable activities.
  • Customer Service: Metro Bank offers a variety of banking methods including Online Banking, in-store banking, phone support, and a mobile app, ensuring diverse and accessible customer service options for account management.
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Information regarding overdrafts or loans specifically for the Community Current Account is not provided, focusing the account’s benefits on transaction management and banking access.
  • Regulatory Compliance: As a recognised UK banking institution, Metro Bank operates under the strict regulations of the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority, ensuring a secure and compliant banking environment for its customers.
  • Additional Benefits: The account supports easy account switching with a guarantee for completion within 7 days for organisations with an annual turnover below £6.5 million, streamlining the transition process for eligible organisations.

Virgin Money Charities Account

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Virgin Money’s Charities Account offers a practical and beneficial banking solution for registered charities, enabling them to manage funds efficiently with free day-to-day banking for those with an annual turnover less than £1 million, alongside additional perks like cashback on debit card transactions and digital tool access for streamlined financial management

  • Monthly Fee: The Virgin Money Charities Choice Account provides free day-to-day banking for registered charities with an annual turnover of less than £1 million, facilitating cost-effective management of finances.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: There are no charges for cash or cheque deposits and withdrawals, direct debits, or other automated transactions for eligible charities, supporting efficient financial operations without additional costs.
  • Interest Rate: No interest, but it offers 0.35% cashback on Debit Card transactions.
  • Fees for Transactions: Free day-to-day banking if your turnover is 1 million or less.
  • Donation Management: The account’s features, including unlimited deposits and withdrawals and cashback on Debit Card spending, support effective donation management and operational flexibility for charities.
  • Customer Service: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: Virgin Money offers both business loans and overdraft facilities.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Deposits with Virgin Money are covered up to £85,000 per charity by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), highlighting a secure banking environment in compliance with UK financial regulations.
  • Additional Benefits: The account offers digital tools like the Money Management digital tool to save time, alongside benefits such as Business Savings discounts and cashback on Debit Card purchases, enhancing the value proposition for charities. Additionally, the account supports easy switching with a guarantee for completion within 7 working days.

Lloyds Treasurer Account

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The Lloyds Treasurer’s Account is tailored for non-profit organisations, such as charities, churches, clubs, or societies. This account is designed to provide easy and efficient day-to-day banking without a monthly fee for eligible organisations.

  • Monthly Fee: The Lloyds Treasurer’s Account does not charge a monthly fee for non-profit organisations such as charities, churches, clubs, or societies, assuming they meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Cash and Cheque Deposits: While specific details on charges for cash and cheque deposits are not mentioned, the account promises free day-to-day banking for eligible organisations, suggesting that these transactions may be included.
  • Interest Rate: N/A.
  • Fees for Transactions: Although there’s no monthly fee, some specific services might incur charges. The document “Additional Services Account Charges & Processing Times” is referenced for detailed information on potential costs for certain transactions.
  • Donation Management: The account’s structure supports simple management of withdrawals, Direct Debits, and standing orders, which could facilitate efficient donation handling and financial operations for non-profits.
  • Customer Service: The account allows the addition of an additional signatory, offering flexibility and control in managing the account, which can be advantageous for organisations requiring multiple levels of authorisation.
  • Overdraft and Loan Facilities: The text does not explicitly mention overdraft or loan facilities for the Treasurer’s Account, focusing primarily on the account’s suitability for day-to-day banking needs of non-profit organisations.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Deposits with Lloyds are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), although it’s noted that not all business customers will be covered due to FSCS eligibility criteria.
  • Additional Benefits: The Treasurer’s Account is designed for ease of management with features like adding an additional signatory and the provision of free Business Finance Assistant software for Lloyds Bank business account holders, enhancing its appeal to non-profits. The Current Account Switch Service is also highlighted, offering a straightforward process for organisations looking to switch to Lloyds from another UK bank or building society.

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 their 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, along with 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 depends on its legal structure. If your charity is registered as a charity, a dedicated charity bank account is appropriate, 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. However, 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. This includes ensuring secure transactions, 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 involves a straightforward process. Here’s how you can do it effectively:

  1. Prepare Your Application: Collect all necessary documents. This typically includes:
    • Proof of charity status (like a registration certificate from the Charity Commission or OSCR).
    • Identification and proof of address for trustees and anyone else who will be authorised to operate the account.
    • A governing document (constitution, trust deed, or articles of association).
    • 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 provided documents 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. Cashplus 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 fees 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 £1 million. It offers unlimited free cash deposits and withdrawals.
  6. Lloyds Treasurer’s Account is free for non-profits with turnover less than £50,000 per year. It offers free day-to-day banking including cash and cheque management.
  7. Barclays Charity & Impact Account is free for registered and excepted charities or community groups that turnover less than £100k. It includes free everyday banking.
  8. Santander Treasurer’s Current Account is free for clubs, societies and charities that turnover less than £250k per year. It offers free cash and cheque deposits/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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