When you run a not-for-profit organisation, you want as much revenue as possible to be used for the purposes of the charity, club or community — and there are bank accounts to help make that happen.

According to the Charity Commision, almost 90% of the UK’s 160,000 charities have an annual income below £500,000, and 72% are below £100,000. This means a significant amount of charities in the UK are eligible for the majority of community banks that are on the market.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, community banks generally offer many benefits and free day-to-day banking, so the not-for-profit can retain as much money as possible for its cause.

  • Free day-to-day banking when your annual turnover is under £50,000; zero charges for debit and credit entries.
  • Manage your account over the phone or online (24/7).
  • Withdraw funds without giving notice.
  • Free monthly statements for easy financial management.
  • Must not go overdrawn without a prearranged agreement.
  • You may be charged on Bulk Payments and Direct Debits when paying suppliers or salaries.

Despite its similar name, Bank of Scotland is not to be confused with The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), which also features on this list. Founded in 1695, Bank of Scotland is the fifth oldest bank in the UK still running today. The bank is based in Edinburgh and has been a subsidiary of Lloyds Banking Group for a little over 10 years, since Lloyds acquired HBOS.

Bank of Scotland offers those with a small, non-profit a Treasurers’ account. Bank of Scotland’s Treasurers’ account is a useful, charity-focused bank account that offers free day-to-day banking for organisations with under £50,000 in annual turnover. Customers also receive general support from the Management Team, which can save you time on administration. It’s possible to apply online or over the phone, but you will of course have to be over 18.

Note: you will be pointed to a business current account if your organisation’s turnover exceeds £50,000 per year.

Barclays is one of the largest and most influential British banks, and its history dates back to goldsmith banking in 1690. With £21 billion in annual revenue and almost 80,000 employees, you won’t be hard-pressed to find a local branch. In fact, there is a staggering 4,750+ of them dotted about in 55 countries — 1,600 of which are in the UK.

The Barclays Community Account is designed for small not-for-profit organisations. The idea is to give such charities and clubs the opportunity to put more resources into the community project, by getting free banking. Not only this, but customers will have access to Barclays’ impressive online and mobile banking infrastructure.

To be eligible, your not-for-profit organisation should have turnover under £100,000, you’ll have a valid UK mobile number and address, and have 3 or fewer officials in the organisation.

The Co-operative Bank may not quite match up to Barclays in terms of its size, but it sells itself as an ethical bank. As such, Co-Op avoids investing in companies that are involved in anything it deems unethical or dubious.

In 2013, the bank was part of a rescue plan as it struggled to meet its capital shortfall. Since, it has been trying to rebuild and restructure to become more profitable. Despite this, it remains to generously offer free banking to a wide range of not-for-profit organisations (statistically, most will qualify for an account).

In order to qualify for the Co-operative Bank’s Community Directplus account, you must be a registered charity, community interest company, co-operative or credit union with a turnover of under £1,000,000. On top of this, the organisation cannot deposit more than £100,000 in cash or deposit over 5,000 cheques (per annum).

  • Free audit letter of certificate of balance (this is for tax purposes when approaching the end of the financial year).
  • Get support from the Knowledge Centre or the Trustee Guide. Support is aimed at running and financing your organisation.
  • Free change is supplied in the branches.
  • Choose regular or monthly statements.
  • The account can be managed in the branch, over the phone or via SMS text messaging.
  • No income limits for places of worship.
HSBC is a huge British multinational bank. It is the largest bank in Europe, the 7th largest in the world, with an operating income reaching close to $20 billion, as well as assets that runs into the trillions. As a result of its incredibly broad investments, HSBC has been continuously involved in controversies and fighting PR battles. Despite this, you can be sure that you’re with a reliable bank that isn’t undergoing financial difficulties. HSBC operates in just about every corner of the world, with subsidiaries in Australia, India, China, Japan, all the way to the USA and Canada — to name just a few. The Club, Charity and Community bank account that HSBC is offering is essentially free banking for when annual turnover is under £100,000. This means that internal transfers, cash withdrawals as well as payments by Direct Debit, Standing Order, Bill Payments and cheque is totally free of charge.
  • Free day-to-day banking for organisations with under £50,000 turnover, for as long as it remains in credit.
  • Multiple signatories.
  • Relatively fast and simple set-up procedure.
  • Account management over the phone and online.
  • No notice necessary upon withdrawals.
  • Ongoing guidance and support.
  • No minimum deposit amount required.

Lloyds Banking Group was founded in 1995. Since then, it has gone on to become a major British bank and was acquired by HBOS in 2009. Lloyd’s has been a relatively consistent, steady player for customers over the years.

The Lloyds Treasurers’ account is intended for non-profit organisations such as clubs, societies, charities or churches. The account has a wide range of benefits and is perhaps one of the strongest community accounts on the market. However, there’s a key drawback: organisations must meet a very limiting cap of £50,000 annual turnover or under to be eligible.

  • No charges of monthly maintenance fees.
  • 200 free transactions.
  • Free giant cheques, suitable for charity donations and presentations.
  • Free cash withdrawals and deposits (below £10,000 per month). After this, 0.50% is charged per £100.
  • Open long hours; 7 days a week, 8am to 8pm on weekdays.

Metro Bank is a relatively low-key bank in the UK, with only 70 branches and half a billion in revenues. Metro Bank’s core goal is not just to help individuals and businesses deliver results, but to be at the heart of the community with a strong commitment to customer service.

Metro Bank offers a Community account that is free, providing annual turnover is below a very generous £2 million. A £0.20 transaction fee occurs after the 200 free transactions is used up, so make sure to ask for an update regularly on how many free transfers remain. Unregistered charities are also eligible, but require some different documents. What’s more, the bank’s presentation cheques are a great way to express the scale of a large, impactful donation, or bring life to an event.

  • Free banking when turnover is below £100,000.
  • Free access to a highly rated mobile banking app.
  • 24/7 phone banking and online banking.
  • Free visa debit card, chequebook and Direct Debit support.
  • Can switch bank accounts when applying online.
  • Newly established small businesses may also access the account for 18 months.
NatWest is another huge commercial bank in the United Kingdom. The company was created in 1968 as the result of a merger between Westminster Bank and National Provincial Bank. Since then, the bank has grown exponentially to the point of achieving 1000 branches and around 3,400 cash machines in the UK. It is considered to be one of the Big Four banks (well, its parent company The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is), along with HSBC, Lloyds and Barclays. Small businesses are also eligible for the Community account when it is newly established. The organisation must have a turnover of below £2 million. For not-for-profit organisations, if after 18 months the annual turnover exceeds £100,000, it will be changed to the standard tariff.
  • Free banking for charities, clubs and societies that have a turnover below £100,000.
  • Startup organisations may also be able to access the account for 24 months.
  • 24/7 access to digital banking and phone banking services.
  • Bank on-the-go with the mobile banking app.
  • Free visa debit card, chequebook and Direct Debit support.
  • You can switch bank accounts when applying online.

Royal Bank of Scotland, commonly known as just “RBS”, is a banking subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Whilst there are 700 branches, these are disproportionately allocated in Scotland as opposed to being spread around the UK. This is likely because The Royal Bank of Scotland Group has other subsidiaries such as NatWest, which operates heavily in England, for example.

The company was founded in 1727, so there’s certainly a lot of business heritage there. The benefit of being one of many subsidiaries is that, although the different banks are very much seperate entities, there is potentially less friction than otherwise (i.e. if you were to switch bank between the two).

Because NatWest is a part of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, there are very strong similarities between both of its charity bank accounts. In fact, the descriptions of the community account on both websites are almost identical. A key difference is that private business can potentially have an extra 6 months of free banking at RBS.

  • First six months of day-to-day banking is free, if the account is in credit.
  • Current account to monitor cash flow, including a cheque book, paying-in book and electronic payment facilities.
  • Paying-in facilities through many High Street Banks (Barclays, HSBC, Bank of Scotland, Lloyds).
  • Overdrafts are available subject to eligibility.
  • Internet banking that gives you 24/7 access and make payments on-the-go.

Reliance Bank claims to operate with a focus on customer care and to put people before profits. This is arguably part of the reason why it has very humble net income figures of just a few million.

It’s worth noting, that Reliance Bank is not a large multinational corporation like many of the others. If you’re expecting state-of-the-art online service and a mobile app, you’re better off looking elsewhere. However, if you’re looking to open a charity bank account, you are most likely going to be charity-minded. And the good news is that the profits of Reliance Bank are used for the charity work that the Salvation Army — its parent company — organises. This could be a good way to support a small, charity-focused bank as well as receive free banking services.

You can receive free banking if the following conditions apply to your organisation: under £500,000 turnover, an average balance of at least £5,000, no more than 25 entries per month and cash handled is £1,000 or less per week. This free banking offer is only guaranteed for 6 months.

  • Free day-to-day banking for charities, clubs and societies.
  • 24/7 access to secure online and mobile banking.
  • Email and text alerts.
  • Broad eligibility requirements with a maximum of £250,000 annual turnover prerequisite.
  • Online guidance and support.
  • Members of the Current Account Switch Service.
Santander is a leading British bank, though it is owned by the Spanish Santander Group. Despite it consisting of the same name, the Santander bank acts autonomously; completely independent from its parent group. Thus, it is run by UK managers with its headquarters in London and 90% of its lending is domestic. Santander has over 800 branches dotted around the UK, making it a relatively easy company to deal with in-person. Despite being focused on personal finances such as mortgage lending, Santander has a very competitive charity-focused bank account on offer. To be eligible for the Treasurers’ current account at Santander, your organisation must be a club, society or charity that has an annual turnover of £250,000 or below. Furthermore, directors, owners or partners must all be over 18 and be UK residents.
  • Free day-to-day banking when the account is in credit.
  • Withdraw for free, without notice.
  • Support from an experienced relationship manager.
  • Possibility of a second signatory can be arranged.
  • No minimum deposit required.
  • 24/7 access to online and mobile banking.
  • Deposit using one of the 11,500 Post Office branches.

Formally an investment of Lloyds Banking Group (hence the name “Lloyds TSB”), TSB now stands as an autonomous subsidiary of the large, Spanish banking group Sabadell. It has a presence in England, Scotland and Wales, with around 550 operating branches. TSB’s journey with Sabadell got off to a somewhat turbulent start when, during the data migration process, many customers lost access to online banking and were exposed to other customers’ account details. Things are looking up now, though, and TSB has returned to profit.

Despite a low £50,000 annual turnover limit for the Treasurers’ account at TSB, the benefits remain competitive. The account is intended to cut down the administration for small, not-for-profit organisations.

  • Free day-to-day banking for 24 months.
  • Receive a visa debit card, cheque book and credit book.
  • Receive monthly statements.
  • Have access to fast online banking.
  • Make international payments.
  • Offers a good level of support, including branch support.
  • Telephone banking.

You may not have heard of Ulster Bank before, as it is predominantly only known in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In fact, the company is even divided into two entities for both Northern and Republic of Ireland. Nevertheless, the bank’s accounts are however still offered throughout the UK, with UK Government Investments (UKGI) owning 62.4% of the company.

In order to be eligible for the Not for Profit account, an organisation must be either a charity, community/voluntary organisation, social enterprise, religious organisation or a community development financial institution. Unlike some of the other options, a fresh for-profit startup will not qualify. This does, however, mean there is an extra focus and intentional service designed to cater for not-for-profit organisations.

Ulster Bank offers eligible not-for-profit organisations 24 months free banking when the annual annual turnover is under £250,000. Organisations that qualify but have a turnover over this can still receive 12 months free banking, providing annual turnover is under £1 million.

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