Opening a bank account for a club or a community

If you are setting up a club, a society or any other community organisation, make sure you get the right bank account for it to run smoothly.

Clubs, societies and other community organisations and not-for-profits have access to dedicated current accounts, which tend to be cheaper than regular business accounts.

It takes a bit of admin to set one up, but once it’s done, it will be a big help in running your organisation smoothly. Having a community bank account will also be required if you want to apply for grants or collect donations. If you are looking for information about opening a bank account for a charity then we have written a separate guide on bank accounts for charities.

How can I get a bank account for a club?

Most traditional banks offer dedicated “community” accounts, which are meant for non-profit organisations.

In most cases, your organisation doesn’t necessarily need to be a registered charity, but just to have charitable purpose, a definition which covers a range of organisations including schools, community groups, sport clubs (including football clubs), societies and so on.

You should look for these accounts in the business banking section of banks’ websites, so you can get an idea of what they are like and compare different options. You’ll then usually need to apply for them in person at a branch.

Can’t I just use my personal account?

You really shouldn’t, especially if your club or group is already formally set up as a non-profit. Your group is a separate legal entity and its funds should be managed accordingly, to safeguard both the organisation and yourself.

It’s also much more practical to have a separate account. While opening it may feel like a bit of a hassle, you don’t want to have to go through all your personal transactions to do your club’s accounting.

How to open a bank account for a club

First of all, make sure you are looking at the right account. You don’t want a personal bank account, nor a standard business account; instead, what you are looking for is usually called a “community account” by the big banks.

Secondly, make sure you get fee-free banking (no monthly fees, free bank transfers, transactions and ATM withdrawals, at the very least); most offer it, but conditions will be slightly different at different banks, so make sure you compare accounts and get the most suitable to your needs.

Thirdly, make sure your organisation meets the eligibility criteria, which will also vary bank by bank. For example, in order to qualify for a community account your organisation will usually need to have a turnover below a certain limit, which can be as low as £50,000.

You’ll often need to go to a branch to open an account. Most traditional banks offer community accounts, while they are more rare among digital-only banks. You can also get a business bank account to manage the finances. Starling Bank offers business bank accounts for clubs through its business account and is pretty much fee-free, so it can be a good alternative if you want to do everything online. We spoke to Starling and it said “You will need to be registered on Companies House, with any individuals listed as PSCs. The status will need to be active and the company type would need to show as “Private company limited by guarantee without share capital”. It must be registered as a CIC on Companies House.”

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What documents do I need?

It will depend on how your organisation has been formally set up (for example, is it a registered charity?), but in a nutshell, you will need to provide:

  • The basic details of your organisation. Such as its name, address, organisation type and date of registration.
  • Personal details of two people in the organisation. One of them will usually be the treasurer and both will be signatories on the account. They’ll likely also have to provide their proof of identity and address.
  • Proof of your organisation’s purpose and status. Depending on the type of organisation, this can for example be its constitution, or its Charity Commission number.

How do I compare bank accounts for clubs and societies?

Features are mostly the same as for standard business accounts. Here are some of the things you want to look at before picking your bank:

  • Fees. Community groups tend to run on little money, especially at the start. Make sure your account allows you to do your banking comfortably without paying fees.
  • Opening the account. Does your organisation meet the eligibility criteria? Is the account easy and quick to open?
  • Account management. Can you manage the account online? How good is the app?
  • Taking payments. Do you need to set up a system that will allow you to take card payments from people? How much will it cost?
  • Cash. Will you need to deposit cash on the account? If yes, how easy is it to do so?
  • Extra features. Do you get any nice perks with the account, such as an accounting system?

If you want to learn more about business accounts in general, how they work and what features they offer, you can have a look on our business banking hub page.

How should my club’s or community organisation’s finances be managed?

You should appoint a treasurer, who will be in charge of taking care of all things money and will be regularly reporting to the organisation’s management committee.

You should also agree on a set of financial standards and rules, for example on what types of financial records you will be keeping, how you will do your accounting, how you will deal with cash if you have to, how much you will put aside in reserves, and so on.

Many banks will also offer you some kind of accounting software together with your community account. If you can get it for free or at a cheap price, it’s a great way of streamlining your finances and will save your treasurer a lot of time and headaches.

Pros and cons of club and community bank accounts

Pros

  • Many accounts charge no monthly fee.
  • Some accounts offer features such as access to accounting software.
  • Opening an account can help you to better manage your group’s finances.

Cons

  • Strict eligibility criteria applies.
  • There may be fees for certain transactions.
  • A good credit rating is usually required.

Bottom line

Opening a community bank account can help you to better manage your organisation’s finances and the great news is, these accounts are usually free of charge. However, it’s important to compare your options carefully to ensure you qualify for your chosen account and that it best meets the needs of your organisation.

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