Charity banking advice

Hi All,

I’m the Chairman of a regional charity that is looking for a new banking provider.
We’ve had some really terrible experiences with our current provider (Barclays) recently and were advised by the Charities Commission that we should look into using the Charity Aid Foundation (CAF Bank) but going by their reviews online it would be a silly move.

The charity typically has around £20,000 in cash in the account at any one time and splits the money into some ring-fenced pots (currently using instant access savings accounts for this) and some in the current account to cover bills etc.
We make and receive quite a few payments per month of varying amounts.

We need an account we can open that allows us to do as much online as possible, as well as splitting the work between several of the Trustees, the individuals involved may also not be located geographically near each other.

In terms of services we’d like multiple signatories able to authorise payments as well as debit card and the ability to pay in at a good number of locations.

Any advice or suggestions would be very much appreciated.

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To be honest I’d stay with the big 6 legacy banks at the moment, no one really offers the features you need besides for them,

Also maybe something like Yorkshire Bank or a building society, but you’ll always find bad reviews about any bank,

I know quite a large charity that uses Lloyds and has multiple trustees and is happy with them , but they might have a dedicated manager due to the turnover, but again anyone can have horror stories with any bank,

What went wrong with Barclays if you can say?

@kolok hopefully this doesn’t turn into a rant but the issues we’ve had revolve mainly around managing signatories.

Due to the nature of our charity and the make up of the constitution we rotate several of the trustee positions each year to avoid stagnation. A trustee’s term is 3 years but over the way things have fallen these past few years we’ve needed to change the signatories a few years in a row.

Going through their mandate change process has been an absolute nightmare each and every time and are still trying to get it correctly changed from last year and we’re nearly at a point where it will be out of date before it’s fully in place and we’ll have to start again.

Their process calls for each signatory going on the mandate to prove a valid method of ID, utility bill and bank statement but they have been refusing left, right and centre many of our Trustees utility bills where they aren’t the first named person on the account.
The big problem however has been the refusing other banks statements as the wording doesn’t match up with how Barclays like it presented - several of our signatories are NatWest customers and at one point we resorted to getting some kind NatWest staff to accompany 2 of our management team to a Barclays branch with a signed, stamped and verified version of a NatWest statement to confirm it was indeed a bank statement, but this still wasn’t enough.
We had the same with another who is a Santander customer. One of the witnesses, who also have to provide ID, and is actually a Barclays customer with a credit card (but not current account) had her Barclays CC statement refused because it wasn’t what they wanted.

This isn’t the branch staff by the way, they just seem to be working with the guidelines given it’s the central mandate team and even the in branch managers (over 4 branch locations) have been unable to help put any leverage on it.

It’s wasted a lot of time and really caused us issues as a charity in how we manage our money this year which has left a terrible taste in our mouths and I’d rather be shut of them to be honest. It feels like administration for the sake of it and in no way is helping safeguard our charity or deal with our finances.

Any recommendations for banks with a more human, common sense, approach to managing things would be much welcomed.

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Oh wow quite a nightmare,

Charity accounts are being cracked down on, that might be the reason for some of the extra rules.

Hopefully you get sorted.

Presumably its a community account that you have? Have you talked with them to find out what exactly is required so you can put in a process at your charity to gather all the correct information first time?

You’ll likely need to do this anyway with whatever bank you use to reduce issues around people handing over incorrect or invalid information.

You’ll need to make sure you’re within turn over limits, but i agree with the first poster, most big banks are fine. Regardless of your decision you’ll need to sit down with them and discuss your particular situation and put in place a process at your charity to collect the right information before submitting it at every rotation.

I’m unsure on some other banks but barclays may have some advantages because of their pingit app which is quite useful for charities, so its maybe with talking to them about whats up and whats required and what process you can put in place.

If signatories is the issue, don’t go with Natwest business either.

Our school needs two signatories to make payments (head and assistant) and we got a new headteacher so the Admin sent in change signatories forms (which were correct) as well as one to add a signatory to the PTA account. Well, Natwest changed all the schools accounts to the PTA parent as they didn’t read the mandates correctly. That was fun for the school to change all of them back.

My last church banked with CAF Bank. They are pretty good. They are helpful when you ring them and their online banking has a system for dual authorisations so that’s pretty good too.

I’d change this church to CAF Bank too, but there is some resistance to change here!