Setting up a unit bank account

How to make sure your bank account is right for your unit

Running a bank account for your unit is a little different to your personal banking

You’ll need to make sure the account is suitable for a guiding unit and set up your account so it can be used safely.

Things to think about

When choosing which bank or building society to use, you should consider:

  • Ease of access. If you don’t have a branch near you, some banks allow payments and withdrawals from other banks or from The Post Office.
  • Banking fees. Check if you’ll be charged a monthly fee. Many banks allow charities to bank for free. If you choose an account that does charge a fee, make sure that you include this in your budget planning.
  • Minimum deposit. Some banks need you to pay in a certain amount of money when you open an account.
  • Expected turnover. Some banks will only let you open an account if you can pay in a certain amount in the year.

You can check this banking guide from the Charity Finance Group

Finding a bank or building society

There are lots of different banks to choose from. It’s up to the trustees of the unit or level to decide which one to use.

Some banks allow you to open an account online, others will want you to visit in person.

It’s likely that you’ll need to show ID and some other documents when you open an account. Check with each individual bank what they need from you. It might include:

  • Your charity registration documents.
  • Your charity trust deeds if you have them.
  • Minutes from a meeting where the trustees agree to the account being opened.
  • Proof of identity of each signatory, . Iincluding proof of their name (passport or driving licence) and proof of their address (utility bill).
  • If you are visiting in person, you might need all signatories with you to sign the mandate.

Take a look at this list of banks  and this list of building societies to help you find an account that works for you.

Charity registration documents and Charity Trust Deeds

We can send you a letter that confirms your unit is a part of Girlguiding, to show your bank the charitable status of your unit. To do this contact Membership Support Services. You should also take a look at our charitable status information.

Who can be a signatory?

You need to have at least three signatories. This must be set up by 31 March 2021. If Covid-19 restrictions prevent you from complying by this date, please complete this as soon as you are able.

When choosing who will be your signatories, choose people you see regularly and can easily meet with. At least two signatories should be from your unit or level. The third signatory can be any other adult, but you could choose someone from the next level up.

Any adult can be a signatory but

  • They cannot be related.
  • They cannot in a relationship with one another.
  • A signatory cannot review the units accounts.
  • As signatories are managing funds, they’ll need to be recorded as a recognised volunteer on GO and have a valid disclosure check.

Cheques and withdrawals must have two signatures or dual authorisation. It is best practice to make sure the signatories are not the people getting the payment. For example, if a leader is claiming expenses, the other 2 signatories should sign for this.

Using dual authorisation online

Many banks now offer online banking with dual authorisation, but you must make sure that you specifically ask for this and set it up when you open the account. This will allow you to view your bank statement and make payments online.

This is how making online payments with dual authorisation works:

  • One of the signatories logs onto the account and sets up a payment.
  • A second signatory then logs on (with a different name) and authorises it.

Until she does, the payment won’t be made. Person 1 can see the payment in the list of ‘awaiting transactions’ but can’t do anything more. Person 2 gives the final authorisation to the bank.

Units must not use unit Debit or Credit cards because there’s no dual authorisation in place when withdrawing money.

Ways of receiving money

Direct payments

Parents/carers can make payments online directly into the unit bank account. Give them the unit bank details and a suggested reference code for their payment – this could be their child’s name.

Card readers

Card readers and Apple Pay can be used for in-person payments.

If you want to use this, follow these best practice guidelines which are covered by the Fundraising Commissions’ Fundraising Policy.

  • You must meet the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS).
  • You must use extra security measures such as Verified by Visa and 3D Securecode for online transactions if you have the resources for this.
  • If you are charged for transferring payments, you must record the total donation amount as income, and record the charges in your accounts as ‘expenditure’.