Best Charity & Community Bank Accounts

Find the top community group banks in this review by Compare Banks.

Updated: April 8, 2024
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

|
Rebecca Goodman

Edited By

Rebecca Goodman

 

If you run a charity or a not-for-profit organisation, you may be looking for a bank with relatively low charges, to keep your running costs as low as possible.

In this guide I've talked about how these bank accounts work, what you should look out for, and I've picked out the best charity bank accounts available.

ServiceScoreRegister
1. Bank of Scotland★★★★★Click Here
2. Co-operative Bank★★★★★Click Here
3. Barclays★★★★★Click Here
4. HSBC★★★★★Click Here
5. Metro Bank★★★★★Click Here
6. Lloyds Bank★★★★★Click Here
7. RBS★★★★Click Here
8. NatWest★★★★Click Here
9. Reliance Bank★★★★★Click Here
10. TSB★★★★★Click Here
11. Santander★★★★★Click Here

Pros and cons of charity banks

This section summarises the pros and cons of top community and charity bank providers in the UK — whether you’re a club, community group, or charity.

Pros

✅ Increase donations to your organisation

✅ ‘Notice accounts' and ‘fixed rate bonds' provide higher interest rates

✅ Earned interest exempt from taxation

Cons

❌ ‘Easy access accounts' often have dismal interest rates

❌ Deposits subject to minimum and maximum thresholds

Top community & charity bank providers — Reviewed

Below, I've created a handy summary of the restrictions applied by each of the top 11 charity and community bank account providers:

BankRestrictions
Bank of ScotlandFree everyday banking for groups with an annual income of less than £50,000. Charges apply above this threshold.
Co-operative BankAvailable to charities, CICs, co-ops, and credit unions with annual income under £1 million. Restrictions on cash and cheque deposits over £100k and 5k respectively.
BarclaysFree banking services for non-profits with an annual income under £100k. Restrictions apply for organisations with more than three full-time employees.
HSBCFree banking if annual turnover is less than £100k. Audit certification support provided.
Metro BankFree Community account for income under £2 million. A charge applies after 200 free transactions.
Lloyds BankFree banking for income under £50k. Positive account balance required to maintain free services.
RBSFree banking for non-profits with income under £100k. Additional benefits for private businesses.
NatWestFree everyday banking for income under £100k for 18 months. Post-18 months, standard rates apply.
Reliance BankFree banking if the monthly transaction does not exceed £2,500, with an average balance of at least £5,000, and other conditions.
TSBFree banking for groups with a turnover of less than £50,000. No charge for withdrawals.
SantanderFree banking for incomes under £250k. Must be UK residents aged over 18.

As always, ensure your choice is covered by the FSCS.

1. Bank of Scotland Treasurer Banking — Top-rated UK community & charity bank provider

Established in 1695, the Bank of Scotland is the fifth-oldest bank in the United Kingdom. With headquarters in Edinburgh, it has been a Lloyds Banking Group affiliate since 2008, when HBOS was purchased by Lloyds.

A treasurer's account is available from the Bank of Scotland for those running a small non-profit group. It's available for groups with a yearly revenue of less than £50,000 since it provides free everyday banking services. 

Customers also benefit from the Management Team's general assistance, which helps reduce the amount of paperwork you need to complete. You may submit an application through the website or by phone, but you must be 18 or older to be considered.

If your company has an annual revenue of above £50,000, you will be directed to a business current account.

  • If your yearly revenue is less than £50k, you won't incur any fees for making debit or credit card transactions
  • Handle your finances any time (24/7)
  • Take money out instantly

2. Co-operative Bank — Popular community & charity bank providers in the UK

Although the Co-operative Bank is smaller than Barclays, it markets itself as a more moral financial institution. As a result, Co-Op doesn't put its money into businesses that do things it considers immoral or questionable.

The Co-operative Bank is a great option for non-profits, groups, and organisations because to its ethical policies.

Customers must have yearly revenue of less than £1 million to qualify. Customers who routinely deposit over £100k in cash and 5k checks per year may be ineligible and moved to a different rate. 

To be eligible for the Community Directplus account at the Co-operative Bank, your organisation must be a charity, CIC, co-op, or credit union with an annual revenue of less than £1,000,000. Just keep in mind that your company is restricted from depositing more than £100k in cash or 5k checks in a single year.

  • Keeping track of money for non-profits, communities, credit unions, and co-ops
  • You qualify if your annual sales are less than £1 million and your bank deposits are less than £100k in cash and 5,000 in total checks

3. Barclays Community Banking — Large community & charity bank provider

Goldsmith banking in 1690 marked the beginning of what would become one of Britain's biggest and most prominent banks, Barclays.

Its offering for charity bank accounts is enticing since it gives users access to a wide range of digital tools, platforms, and specialists designed to assist charities and non-profits make the most of their accounts. 

The ‘Digital Eagles' at Barclays are part of a team of professionals dedicated to easing clients' transition to online banking by providing them with tutorials, guides, and other resources. For nonprofits with an annual budget of under £100k, the charity bank account offers free everyday transactions and no monthly maintenance costs.

Small charities might benefit from the Barclays Community Account. The goal is to provide these organisations with a means to invest more money in their community service via access to free banking services. Additionally, Barclays' advanced online and mobile banking platforms will be available to consumers.

  • Your non-profit must have an annual budget of less than £100k
  • As well as a UK-based mobile phone number and postal address
  • And have no more than three full-time employees in order to qualify

4. HSBC Charity Banking — Trusted international community & charity bank provider

HSBC is a major international bank. It has more assets than any other bank in the world and an annual operating revenue of about £20 billion, making it the biggest bank in Europe and the seventh largest in the world.

HSBC has branches all around the world, including Australia, India, China, Japan, and North America (US and Canada). 

If your yearly revenue is less than £100,000, HSBC's Club, Charity, and Community bank account is effectively free. And you should find that there are no transaction fees associated with making an internal transfer, withdrawing cash, or paying bills through Direct Debit, Standing Order, Bill Payment, or check.

  • Certificatications of accounts from audits are provided free of charge (in preparation for tax time)
  • Consult the Resource Centre or the Trustee Handbook for help. Your group will get funding and operational assistance
  • ATM machines at branches are free of charge

5. Metro Bank Community Banking — Well-rated community & charity bank accounts

With just 70 locations and half a billion in annual sales, Metro Bank is one of the UK's most understated financial institutions. Metro Bank's primary objective is to serve as a community hub by providing exceptional banking services to both people and businesses.

If your business's yearly revenue is below the very generous £2 million threshold, Metro Bank will provide you with a free Community account. If you want to avoid paying the £0.20 cost that kicks in after you've used up your 200 free transfers, it's a good idea to check your balance periodically. 

Even though they need a somewhat different set of paperwork, unincorporated nonprofits may apply too. In addition, presentation checks from the bank are a fun and creative way to highlight a sizable contribution or commemorate a special occasion.

  • No recurring monthly payments for upkeep
  • 200 fee-free buys, with generous checks are available at no charge

6. Treasury Banking at Lloyd's — SME community bank accounts for anything under £50k

Lloyds Banking Group started off as Lloyds Bank. It has now grown into a prominent British bank, eventually being purchased by HBOS in 2009. Lloyd's has maintained a stable and reliable presence for its clientele for many years.

Clubs, Societies, Charities, and Churches are eligible for the Lloyds Treasurers' Account. The account offers several advantages and is among the best community accounts available. 

There is, however, a major limitation: businesses must have an annual revenue of £50k or less to qualify. Banking services for groups with annual revenue matching this are provided free of charge for as long as the account balance is positive.

  • The first setup is quick and painless
  • Easy online and telephone management

7. RBS Community Banking — Top community & charity bank provider

With challenger banks on the rise, traditional firms like RBS and HSBC need to continuously innovate.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group includes the Royal Bank of Scotland, or “RBS” for short. There are 700 locations, although they are heavily concentrated in Scotland rather than being spread out over the rest of the United Kingdom.

Since its inception in 1727, the corporation has had a long and storied history. Being a subsidiary has its advantages, such as the possibility of reduced friction when switching banks (even if the various banks are very much independent organisations).

NatWest has two charity bank accounts which are free to groups with annual revenues of under £100,000. One major distinction is that private businesses may be eligible for an additional six months of free banking services from RBS.

  • Bank accounts are provided free of charge to non-profit organisations with annual revenues of under £100,000
  • Start-ups can use the account for a whole year
  • Digital and telephone banking services are available at all hours

8. NatWest Community Banking — Top community account from a “big-four” bank 

NatWest offers a charity bank account for organisations with an annual revenue of less than £100,000. Everyday banking and checking accounts are provided free of charge for 18 months for small enterprises.

When the Community account is first set up, it is open to small companies as well. The company's annual revenue must be less than £2 million. If a non-profit's annual revenue is above £100,000 after 18 months, the rate will be adjusted to the regular tariff.

  • The first £100,000 in annual business is handled at no charge
  • Use popular banking app on your mobile device without charge
  • You may access your account through phone or the internet at any time of the day or night

9. Reliance Charity, Club & Society Banking — Alternative current accounts

According to their website, Reliance Bank prioritises the needs of its customers and community above making a profit. This may be at least partially responsible for its relatively low net income of a few million dollars, alongside the rising power of challengers like Monzo and Starling.

It's important to keep in mind that, unlike many of its competitors, Reliance Bank is not a huge, worldwide conglomerate.

You should go elsewhere if you need cutting-edge technology like a smartphone app and 24/7 online support. However, if you're interested in opening a charity bank account, you probably value charitable giving. 

The good news is that the Salvation Army, the parent business of Reliance Bank, uses its revenues to fund charitable initiatives. You may be able to get free banking services while also helping out a local, nonprofit institution by doing this.

Your business qualifies for free banking if its monthly transactions total less than £2,500, the average balance is at least £5,000, the number of monthly transactions totals less than 25, and the amount of cash handled each week totals £1,000 or less. There's a 6-month time limit on this interest-free banking promotion.

  • If the account balance is positive after the first six months, there will be no monthly fee
  • Cash flow may be tracked with the use of a current account's electronic payment options and other features like a chequebook and a paying-in book
  • Many major high-street banks (including Barclays, HSBC, Bank of Scotland, and Lloyds) provide deposit services

10. TSB — Top for community groups with low revenue

Originally founded as a joint venture between TSB and Lloyds Banking Group (thus the name “Lloyds TSB”), TSB is now a fully independent subsidiary of the major Spanish banking conglomerate Sabadell. It operates over 550 branches in England, Scotland, and Wales.

During a scandal involving breached data transfers, many TSB clients lost access to online banking and were exposed to the account information of other TSB customers. Fortunately, TSB is once again generating a profit.

The advantages are nonetheless attractive even if the Treasurers' account at TSB has a modest £50,000 yearly turnover limit. The goal of the account is to reduce administrative burdens for smaller charitable organisations.

  • When the account balance is positive, everyday banking transactions are free
  • To withdraw at no cost or notice, go here
  • Help from a seasoned account manager

11. Santander — Top for convenience

The Spanish Santander Group owns the prominent British bank Santander. Even though it shares a name with its parent company, Santander Bank is run independently. Therefore, it is headed by UK management out of London and makes 90% of its loans inside the UK.

With over 800 locations throughout the UK, Santander is a convenient bank to conduct business with in person. Although Santander is well known for consumer banking products like mortgages, the company also offers a competitive charity checking account.

Your club, organisation, or charity must have an annual revenue of £250,000 or less to qualify for the Santander Treasurers' current account. Additionally, all directors, owners, or partners must be UK citizens above the age of 18.

  • The Santander Current Account for Treasurers
  • Charities, clubs, and organisations may get free everyday banking services.
  • The convenience of banking at your fingertips whenever, whenever

Top community & charity bank providers — A buying guide

Let’s explore these services further as a topic. 

What is a community/charity bank?

There actually isn’t much of a difference between a company bank account and a charity bank account. They're similar in many ways, but their primary focus is on helping non-profits and charity causes.

Charitable organisation bank accounts vary primarily in that they often have cheaper costs and facilitate the application process for tax exemptions and Gift Aid, as opposed to ordinary commercial accounts.

There are a number of factors to think about while establishing a charity bank account, including the structure of your organisation, the location of its primary operations, the size of your budget, the types of contributions you accept, and more. That's because having a stable bank account is crucial to the day-to-day operations of any charitable group.

It's a smart move, to boot. Although a regular personal account may be utilised, it's not a good idea since it can be difficult to keep track of your money and donations, which can have a negative impact on your financial well-being.

Think carefully about the kind of account that will serve your nonprofit organisation best. Although savings accounts have more stringent withdrawal requirements, they often provide better interest rates. Current accounts, on the other hand, provide you instantaneous access.

Specifics of non-profit accounts

1. The amount of money donated into the account

While this varies from bank to bank, most provide basic banking services for a nominal monthly cost. In addition to the monthly account maintenance cost, you may incur additional fees for cash withdrawals, in-person deposits, and wire transfers.

2. Who is eligible to open a charitable account?

Bank-by-bank, the requirements for opening a charity account may differ, but in general, any group with a benevolent mission, such as:

  • Organisations that have a Charity Commission registration
  • Groups of people that have the same interest or hobby
  • CASCs, or community-based amateur sports clubs
  • Co-operatives
  • Temples and chapels

Since the threshold for registering with the Charity Commission is £5,000 per year in revenue, several banks do accept donations from unregistered organisations.

3. Starting a non-profit organisation bank account

Depending on the institution, you can submit an application for a charity bank account online, over the phone, over the mail, or in person. The necessary paperwork might vary from bank to bank, but often includes the following:

  • Registration information and documentation of the charity's legitimacy
  • Documents of trust for the charity
  • Information on the charity's finances, such as annual revenue
  • Provide the full names, addresses, and roles of any trustees or signatories

Leading community & charity bank providers: The verdict

Like any small company, nonprofits, clubs, and community groups need a safe place to keep their money and a method to keep track of its whereabouts. There are certain limitations due to their non-profit status, but there are still many free and low-cost alternatives for banking and saving. 

You may wish to investigate non-profit checking and savings accounts if you operate a nonprofit or community-based group. They facilitate the monitoring and scheduling of ongoing gifts, provide insightful financial advice, and simplify the process of claiming Gift Aid.

If you have spare funds, it may be prudent to create a savings account for your charity so that the money may grow and perhaps generate revenue. Think about how quickly you'll need access to the money and how long you can wait before making a withdrawal when determining which account is appropriate for your organisation.

For more, see our top business loan accounts.

Related Guides:

Top-rated community & charity bank providers: FAQs

Can a nonprofit organisation open a bank account?

How much money should a nonprofit have in savings?

Is it safe to keep money in a charity savings account?

Can a charity use a personal checking account?

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Mentioned Banks

About Bank of Scotland Bank of Scotland is a commercial clearing bank based in Edinburgh. Not to be confused with Royal Bank of Scotland, it was established in 1695 and is one...
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About Barclays Bank Barclays is a British multinational investment bank and financial services company. It was founded in 1690 and is headquartered in London. Barclays originated...
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About Charity Bank Charity Bank, founded in 2002, is an ethical bank that lends to charities, social enterprises and other non-profit organisations that intend to use the loan...
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About The Co-operative Bank Based in Manchester, United Kingdom, the Co-operative Bank is a large retail and commercial bank. It is the seventh biggest lender in Britain and the majority...
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About HSBC Bank HSBC is a British banking and financial services company. It is the largest bank in Europe and the seventh largest bank in the world. The bank originated in Hong Kong...
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About Lloyds Bank Lloyds Bank is a British retail and commercial bank. One of the ‘Big Four’ clearing banks, it was founded in Birmingham in 1765. It is the largest retail bank...
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About Metro Bank Metro Bank is a retail bank based in the United Kingdom. Founded in 2010 by Vernon Hill and Anthony Thomson, it is the first new high street bank to open in the...
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NatWest, or National Westminster, is a retail and commercial bank based in the United Kingdom. It is one of the ‘Big Four’ UK clearing banks and has more than 7.5million personal banking...
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About Reliance Bank Reliance Bank was founded in 1890 by William Booth. Originally named Salvation Army Bank, it was originally set up to help the Salvation Army to finance mortgages...
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About RBS RBS, or Royal Bank of Scotland, is a retail banking subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group. The Group’s other retail subsidiaries are NatWest and Ulster Bank....
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About Santander Santander UK is a British bank. Though it is a British company and autonomously managed, it is entirely owned by the Spanish Santander Group. Santander is one...
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About TSB TSB is a UK-based retail and commercial bank. It is a subsidiary of the Sabadell Group. The TSB we know today came to be in 2013, formed from Lloyds TSB Scotland PLC...
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