How to Open a Nonprofit Bank Account

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Like any business, a church, charity or other nonprofit organization needs a bank account to handle regular deposits and withdrawals and to keep those business transactions separate from personal ones.

To open a nonprofit savings account or checking account, you need to have met all the legal requirements for establishing a nonprofit organization in your state. You'll also need to decide which account types you need, gather some important documentation and get your board's input on the bank you want to use. The actual application process usually requires an in-person visit with other key organizational members present.

Confirm Your Organization's Status

Before you can qualify for a bank account for a nonprofit club or other organization, you need to have created your articles of incorporation and completed the incorporation process in your state. You'll also need to have gotten a tax ID number and completed your tax-exemption application process through the IRS and possibly your state. Other steps include writing your corporation's bylaws and choosing directors for your nonprofit's board.

Decide Between Checking and Savings

Once your nonprofit meets the initial requirements, you should meet with your board to decide the type of bank account you need. You'll usually use a checking account to handle everyday transactions like accepting donations, making purchases and paying your bills.

However, you may also want a nonprofit savings account to store your reserve funds safely and possibly earn a small amount of interest. Banks often offer multiple account types for nonprofits, so you may find a combination of checking and savings accounts that is right for you.

Find a Suitable Bank

After you've decided which types of bank accounts your nonprofit needs, begin exploring local financial institutions to find those that offer the features and services you prefer. You'll often find the nonprofit offerings through the business banking section of the bank's website. Some accounts will have "nonprofit" or "community" in the title, while others will be general business accounts.

When exploring institutions, you can consider major banks such as PNC Bank, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Bank of America and BB&T Bank as well as community credit unions. Some banks reward nonprofits with no maintenance fees or minimum balance required and allow for larger currency deposits. You'll want to consider fees along with the institution's customer service, availability, standards and features such as online banking and interest when making your decision. Explore your options with your nonprofit's board to make a final decision.

Open a Nonprofit Organization Bank Account

Contact the chosen bank to learn about the nonprofit bank account application process. Many banks will have you and other key members of your organization come in to physically fill out the application for this type of account. However, your bank's website can inform you if an online application process exists.

Before heading to the bank, you'll need to gather some key documents and information for a successful application. At a minimum, expect to have your nonprofit organization's tax ID number (such as an employer identification number) handy. You'll also need to bring your articles of organization or other documentation with your organization's founding date and officers listed. Banks usually also ask for both Social Security numbers and photo ID cards for all nonprofit savings account or checking account users.

When filling out the paperwork or online application, you'll provide information such as your nonprofit's industry, contact details, account manager and authorized users and then have all users sign. You may also answer questions about your expected financial activities and fill out additional forms verifying your organization's nonprofit status and the identities of account members. Once the bank has approved your application, you should get your account opening documents, make any required deposit and be able to request materials like bank cards and paper checks.