Opening a Non-Profit Checking Account
Any chapter that collects dues should have a bank account to store chapter funds. In addition to providing improved security, chapters will need to write checks to pay vendors for T-shirts, patches, etc. It also allows members to make out their yearly dues check to the club instead of to an individual.
The Treasurer will need to setup the non-profit checking account for the club. This is a simple process but following the guidelines and suggestions below can avoid duplicate trips to the bank…and save money.
1. Choose a bank
Don’t assume that your personal bank is the best option. Identify several banks that have multiple branches within the club’s membership area to insure that Treasurers who are elected in the future also have easy access to a local branch.
Banks typically require a minimum initial deposit to open a checking account but most will waive this requirement for Non-profits in addition to providing free checks. If they don’t, go to the next bank on your list.
2. Obtain an EIN
To open a non-profit checking account, the bank will require either a personal SSN or an EIN (Employer Identification Number). For obvious reasons, it is not recommended to use someone’s personal SSN.
Before going to the bank, get an EIN number for your club. Obtaining an EIN number is free, quick and easy. The online application takes several minutes to complete and your EIN number will be provided instantly upon completing the form.
To make the application process simple, screen shots have been provided illustrating what options to select. review the sample form and then apply by clicking on the link below.
3. Bring a $50 Deposit
Banks require a minimum deposit to open a checking account. Most banks will waive this requirement for non-profits but you will still need an initial deposit to open the account. $50 collected in dues should be sufficient.
4. Decide how many signatures are required
Before opening an account, the club should decide (by popular vote) how many signatures are required for checks. It is typical for non-profit organizations to require two signatures on each check with all four officers being authorized signature bearers. This check-and-balance system insures good accountability for the club’s funds and insures that a check can still be signed if one or more officers are not present at the meeting.
For each authorized signer on the account, the bank will provide an “Authorized Signature Card” to be filled out and signed by each officer. The Treasurer can fill his out at the bank and the rest can be taken to the next meeting, filled out and returned later.
TIP: When offered four signature cards, ask for eight or 12 to avoid a trip the following year when new officers are elected.
NOTE: In additional to photocopying the Treasurer’s driver’s license at the bank, they will typically ask for a photocopy of the other three officer’s driver’s licenses in addition to the signature cards. If the signature cards for the other three officers are returned without a photocopy of their driver’s license, they typically don’t say anything. (The signature card has all of the necessary contact information and their signature. In the event of a discrepancy or issue, the bank simply needs a signature on file to compare with the signature on the questionable check.)
For the bank’s purpose, the club’s address should always be the home address of the Treasurer. This is where the bank statements will be mailed and who the bank will call if there is an issue. When a new Treasurer is elected, he or she will need to fill out an “Account Change Request Form” to reflect the club’s new address so future bank statements are mailed to the new Treasurer’s home.
If asked nicely, banks will typically provide the club’s initial checks for free. Bear in mind that there are checks specifically designed with two signature lines if this is the option your club goes with. The bank will offer a selection of styles ranging from a standard checkbook to three-checks-per page (which needs a 3-ring binder). There is also an option to have carbon-copy checks, too. Purchasing checks can be costly for a start-up chapter so be persuasive and prepared to “take your business elsewhere” if they do not offer them for free.
Be sure to ask for a free zipper-up bank bag to keep your checkbook, cash, change, checks received, pens, and “whatever else” together.
The Treasurer is responsible for maintaining a current balance of the club’s funds. Given the propensity for hard drive failures and viruses, a computer-based ledger is not recommended. Additionally, Microsoft Money, Quickbooks and similar software may impose technical challenges for future Treasurers.
Google Docs – If a digital ledger is preferred, Google Docs offers a free online spreadsheet application very similar to Microsoft Excel that would be preferable to a PC-based solution.
A Google Doc spreadsheet ledger is automatically mirrored across multiple servers providing “automated backup”. Data cannot be lost due to PC failure or viruses. It offers version control that avoids “overwriting” or “accidentally deleting” information and balances can be viewed online by anyone with permission to access the balance.
It is a good practice for the club to perform an audit at the end of the year. Ask for two volunteers to review the Treasurer’s ledger and receipts to insure that everything is in order and that the balance is correct before handing off the books to the next Treasurer
Non-Profit Associations do not need to file taxes on revenue earned so long as that revenue does not exceed a state-specified amount. As an example, Pennsylvania only requires tax filings for non-profits earning more than $2500 / year. Check with your local tax office to determine your state’s requirements.
Since Membership dues are collected by the Treasurer, the Treasurer may also be designated responsible for maintaining the current membership count and membership list. To maintain a historical record of the club’s growth, the Treasurer (or another officer) should report on the current membership count at the beginning of each meeting so it can be reflected in the minutes.