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How to's

How to set up a bank account

One of our biggest difficulties when we started at Harbour Church was that we were running all of our finances through our sending church.   If you can get the bank account set up as soon as possible then it leads to a lot less work and stress.  In the meantime ensure you keep a spreadsheet to keep track every bit of income and expenditure.  Maybe it is obvious to everyone else, but things happen so fast and just in case there is another operations manager out there, to whom running the finances doesn't come naturally then make sure you do this.  It will save you money but also months of time, disaster, crisis.... shall i go on??!!

Any time anyone spends anything do four things: get them to fill in their expenses form or their payment request form (found in the templates and resources section), make a copy of the form and receipt and .THEN send them off to your sending church for their records.  Update your spreadsheet and keep your own records!!

MEANWHILE..... here are my top tips to setting up a bank account: 

1) Choose a bank

It doesn't matter which account you choose but I recommend a purely online institution - it keeps costs down.  

(CAF Bank is good, you can have dual authorisation and it is completely online which keeps fees low.  BUT be warned they are like the FORT KNOX of banks and they make you have multiple passwords/memorable names/security questions for you to do anything.  I think i've got 6 or 7 different passwords or pins for using them which is quite excessive.) 

2) Collect information

You will need to make decisions such as who will be card holders, what type and how many account/s you will have, who will be signatories.  You will need all the trustees information and your charity number.

TIP: Set up three accounts called GENERAL (where you pay any direct debits, expenses, invoices from), GIVING (where all your giving, Standing Order's go into) and SAVINGS (where you keep any restricted funds).  CAF will charge you £5 per month per account but it is REALLY helpful to keep these three areas separate to help you manage the finances. 

3) Fill in form and send off

make sure you've got all the details correct - at this stage unless you get everything right, there might be quite a bit of back and forth - VERY FRUSTRATING as depending on the bank has to be done by post (OH MY WORD!!). To get organised get the form filled in whilst you are waiting for your charity number so that once your charity registration number comes through you will be able to send it off immediately. 

Whichever bank you choose, it can take 3-4 weeks to set up and cannot be set up until you are a charity or legal entity.  However it is worth having the forms filled in entirely so that when the charity is registered they can be sent off immediately.  This is also a good time to set up your financial software so that you are ready to connect your bank account/s once they are opened.  

4) connect to your financial software

Once your accounts have been opened it's time to connect them to your financial software! Then you can start generating reports and keep track of everything more effectively.  

5) Inform donors

Tell any donors that need to know of your new bank account details and email all standing order holders to let them know they need to transfer their standing orders over to you.  Don't forget to update giving forms, just giving account, text to give and your fundraising applications. 

Martha Bryant
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