By Daniel Grunstein, Co-Founder and CEO of Crowded – a nonprofit banking provider that allows nonprofits to manage collecting funds, tax compliance, and expenditures in one place.

Nonprofits have unique needs when it comes to financial management and how they store their money. If you’re looking for a bank as a new nonprofit or researching options in preparation for switching banks, don’t just settle for a business bank account, there are numerous factors you’ll want to consider for your bank account that are specific for nonprofits.

Nonprofits do not have the same priorities and needs as a for-profit business; looking for a bank account that takes these differences into account is crucial. Anyone who has ever switched their personal bank account has some idea of how tedious and time-consuming the process can be, and this can be so for nonprofit accounts too (depending on the provider).

Because institutions like charities, research foundations, religious institutions, and other nonprofits prioritize raising money, collecting donations, and funding programs rather than distributing profits to shareholders, they need a bank account designed to accommodate these financial activities, not just a regular business bank account. Nonprofit organizations are also tax-exempt, opening up additional accounting and tax compliance considerations.

It is important to note that even though your nonprofit does not operate like a for-profit business, certain business-related activities are still necessary. Nonprofits need to pay operating expenses, purchase supplies and potentially apply for loans. Your bank must be able to handle all of your financial transactions while also understanding how your needs differ from a for-profit company.

Choosing a Bank for Your Nonprofit

There will be some crossover between bank accounts made for businesses and those created for nonprofits. However, key differences can make a substantial difference in your organization’s financial health and money management. Identifying the most important features and your nonprofit’s priorities is a great place to start when looking for a bank. If you aren’t sure where to start, the features below can be used as a starting point.

Bank Fees

When the work you do impacts low-income families, veterans with disabilities, hungry children, endangered animals, or any of the other countless areas of need across the world, you want to make every dollar count. Bank fees can add up quickly and eat into your organization’s budget, so you may wish to avoid nonprofit banking options that charge monthly fees or high fees for transfers,.

Account Minimums

Variations in expenses and income can happen in any industry, but nonprofits often feel these fluctuations more intensely. You may want to consider how a slow donation or fundraising month will affect your bank account as well as your programs. Most business and nonprofit accounts have account minimums, which can sometimes be difficult to satisfy. Look for a nonprofit bank account that has no minimum balance requirements.

Values and Philosophy

Choosing service providers with values that align with their own is becoming an increasingly popular way for individuals to shop for goods and services. This is something that is even more important for many nonprofits because of the nature of their organizations and the services they provide. Finding a bank that mirrors those values or special interests can be beneficial for your reputation and your peace of mind. Nonprofit banking providers might have it in their mission statement to help nonprofits with financial management, rather than just increasing shareholder value.

Nonprofit Features

Finding a bank that offers additional features for nonprofits should be a priority. Look for features such as fundraising and compliance tools, annual tax filing services, and donation collection features to help streamline your financial activities and compliance. Banking with an institution that can handle both the business-like features as well as the nonprofit aspects will allow a nonprofit to thrive financially.

The Top 4 Best Banks for Nonprofits

Only your nonprofit knows which features are most important for your nonprofit. Once you determine which features are nonnegotiable, you’ll need some nonprofit banking options to choose from. Here are some of the best banks and financial institutions with accounts for nonprofit organizations.

1. Crowded

If you want to choose a banking provider that caters specifically to nonprofit organizations, Crowded is one of the best options available. Its nonprofit bank accounts  offer FDIC-insurance, compliance tools for new nonprofits, annual tax filing services, flexible online payment collection services for dues and donations, and budgeted debit cards. Crowded provides a centralized financial management system that allows nonprofits to simplify the way they handle their money.

Crowded –  the pros and cons:

X Fees for certain banking transactions
X No physical bank locations

2. M&T Bank

M&T Bank’s nonprofit bank account is a good option if your organization is headquartered in one of the 12 states with branch locations. It has over 1,000 branches, which is convenient for any nonprofit that wants access to a physical bank office. The maintenance fee is marketed as being the lowest of all business checking options, which suggests their focus is still business-forward rather than nonprofit-centered. However, there are positive features that may work for your organization.

M&T Bank – the pros and cons:

Over 1,000 physical locations across 12 states
Low maintenance fees compared to other business accounts

X Minimum balance requirement
X No fundraising tools

3. U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank is a well-known national financial institution that also offers nonprofit checking accounts. It has branches across the country, although some regions have limited locations. Using a U.S. Bank account allows your nonprofit’s money to earn interest. It is primarily a bank for individuals and businesses, so some organizations dislike the lack of nonprofit feature integration.

U.S. Bank – the pros and cons:

No transaction fees (for up to 1,800 transactions per year)
Money can earn interest
Thousands of branch locations

X Limited number of free cash deposits
X Monthly maintenance and balance fees apply in some situations
X No fundraising tools

4. Wells Fargo

This bank likely needs no introduction since it’s one of the largest in the United States. While Wells Fargo does not offer a specific nonprofit bank account, it does have various business accounts and also offers philanthropic services for nonprofits. With over 8,000 nationwide locations, almost every nonprofit is likely headquartered within a reasonable distance from a Wells Fargo branch. Choosing such a prolific bank like this one still has advantages and disadvantages.

Wells Fargo – the pros and cons:

Large bank with numerous financial services
Philanthropic services division
Many locations nationwide

X Limited number of free transactions each month
X Minimum balance requirement
X Monthly maintenance fee
X No checking account specifically tailored to nonprofits

About the Sponsor

Crowded is a financial platform that makes it easy for nonprofit organizations to collect payments, fundraise, track spending, stay compliant and manage their funds online.
To set up a Crowded account for your nonprofit in minutes, create a free account online or book a demo with a member of the Crowded team to learn more.