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f you’ve started a nonprofit, you’re not in business for the money. However, in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you’re still considered a business, and your accounting practices will be carefully scrutinized. The right bank account will help you keep your finances organized so you can keep your exempt status and your nonprofit can thrive.
What kind of bank account can a nonprofit organization open?
A nonprofit bank account is whatever bank account a nonprofit uses to handle its finances. Some financial institutions offer bank accounts specifically for nonprofits, but you can also use a standard business checking account.
However, you shouldn’t use a personal account for your nonprofit. As with all types of business, it’s best to keep your personal finances and your nonprofit’s finances completely separate. This will save you a lot of headaches at tax time and can keep you from accidentally violating any of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) that you need to follow.
Different types of banks for nonprofits
Because you can open any type of business bank account for your nonprofit, you can use any bank. However, some will have better terms and conditions, so don’t hesitate to shop around to find the best option. There are four general types of financial institutions you can use.
Commercial banks are for-profit businesses. They’re typically larger than other types of banking institutions and offer more services and locations. Large commercial banks will have many branches and ATMs, which can make it convenient to do business with them. However, they often charge higher fees.
Credit unions are nonprofits. They’re owned by their members, who are affiliated in some way. They might live in the same community, be in the same industry, or share some other ties. Credit unions usually have lower fees, but they have fewer locations and may not offer as many services.
Local banks are also for-profit institutions, but they don’t have the reach of larger banks. They often have strong ties to the community, so they can be a good option if your nonprofit serves your local area. However, they may not have the services you need or be convenient if you travel outside of your local area.
Digital banks operate completely online. They don’t have physical locations, although you can usually access a network of ATMs without having to pay fees. They provide a fintech product that most digital natives will feel comfortable using. Digital banks tend to offer the newest features and are extremely convenient to use.
Best banks for nonprofits
When you’re looking for a bank for your nonprofit, consider the services it offers, the fees it charges, and how convenient it is to use. Here are some of the top banks for nonprofits.
U.S. Bank Nonprofit Checking Account
U.S. Bank doesn’t charge a monthly maintenance or balance fee with a $100 minimum opening balance. It also offers 18,000 free transactions and up to $30,000 in free cash deposits per year. U.S. Bank has a convenient app and provides remote check deposits. It also provides add-on services for credit card processing, enhanced cash management, and overdraft protection.
U.S. Bank doesn’t offer the option to submit your application online, although you can get started on the website. It does have physical branches, but you may not be able to find one in your area.
Truist Community Checking
Truist Community Checking is designed specifically for small nonprofits. It offers business debit cards for you and any employees you want to add to the account. Truist doesn’t charge for your first 225 transactions and has unlimited cash processing. It provides online banking but has branches in only 15 states and Washington, D.C. If you want an in-person option and don't live in one of the states the organization services, you may want to go with another bank.
LendingClub Tailored Checking
LendingClub’s Tailored Checking account offers unlimited fee-free transactions and doesn’t charge overdraft fees. However, it does charge a $10 monthly that can be waived with a $500 minimum balance. You’ll also need a $100 minimum starting deposit. LendingClub offers built-in integrations for several accounting programs, such as QuickBooks and Mint, which can make your accounting process easier.
Novo Business Banking
Novo’s business banking solution is a completely free, feature-rich option that makes it easy to handle your nonprofit’s finances. With Novo, you can connect with many of the business management tools you already use, such as Slack, QuickBooks, Stripe, Shopify, and more.
You can get all of your financial insights from a centralized dashboard. You’ll also get faster access to your funds through Novo Boost and Express ACH. Novo will refund any ATM fees you have to pay at the end of each month, so you can withdraw money wherever it's convenient for you. And you’ll never have to pay overdraft fees. Additional features include unlimited invoicing and bill pay, live customer support, and Novo Reserves, which lets you set aside money for large expenses.
How to choose a bank for your nonprofit
Although you can open a standard business account, you may have different priorities when banking for a nonprofit. Regardless of whether you choose a checking account specifically for nonprofits or go with a standard business account, you should look at the following factors.
As a nonprofit, you undoubtedly want as much money as possible to go toward supporting your cause. Unless a bank offers specific services that you think are worth it, choose one with no monthly fees.
Online and mobile banking features
If you work with a dispersed team or take care of nonprofit work during off hours, you may need to access your banking information at any time. Look for a bank that offers convenient apps for 24/7 banking.
Integration with other tools
Look for a bank that works with the systems you already have in place or offers other features you need. For example, if you have an online shop through Shopify for your nonprofit, you’ll want a bank that provides plug-and-play functionality with Shopify.
Easy donation options
When someone is ready to donate, you want to make it as easy as possible for them. Your checking account should let you take ACH payments, deposit checks remotely, and take donations through other payment processing systems, such as Stripe.
Even if you don't need additional services now, you may in the future. If everything else is equal, go with the bank that offers the most services. For example, it's often easier to apply for funding from a bank if you already have an established relationship.
Nonprofits have many of the same needs as traditional businesses, but you also need to consider additional factors. As a nonprofit, your accounting practices are important for maintaining your tax-exempt status. Choosing the right bank can make it easier to comply with regulations and maintain transparency in your finances.
Novo’s business banking platform provides everything you need to manage your finances so you can focus on doing good. Sign up today to get started.
Novo is a fintech, not a bank. Banking services provided by Middlesex Federal Savings, F.A.: Member FDIC.
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