A church is a non-profit institution that also has to manage its finances in the same way a company does. The church’s personnel are compensated, equipment like sound systems, computers and church furniture are purchased, and events are organized very often. With all these activities, expenses are incurred and the church’s funds need to be managed properly. It is best to open a checking account under the church’s name so transactions are documented, can be easily traceable and are accounted for. Here are some useful tips when opening a church checking account:
- Find an appropriate bank to open the checking account with. There are banking institutions that offer checking account services for churches, and will provide you details regarding the requirements. It is important to ask around first before settling for a bank. Different banks offer varying interest rates and have slightly different fees and charges for different transactions. Choose a banking institution that provides additional benefits such as free checkbook and minimal transaction fees.
- Prepare the legal requirements for opening a checking account. Legal documents such as the church’s Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Federal Tax Identification Number are needed. It is a big mistake when churches, the small ones in particular, use the church founder’s personal EIN when opening the church’s checking account. This may become a problem later on with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) when they make an audit of your income and assets. The Social Security numbers of the individuals that are in charge of the checking account will also be needed. Then you need to fill out some forms and provide the church’s name, address and contact details such as telephone numbers and official email address.
- Designate the church personnel who will be the signatory for the checking account. The person that manages the church’s administrative department or the treasurer should be the one in charge of administering the checking account. Normally there should be two persons who will sign, so aside from the treasurer, other personnel such as the secretary or executive assistant shall be assigned as the check signers. Make sure these people are trustworthy and responsible, and that all transactions are documented. It is also best to have an internal audit process so the church’s financial records are reviewed regularly, avoiding financial problems later. There may be cases of mishandling of money that the church loses money on unnecessary and avoidable expenses.
- Complete the bank’s requirement by depositing at least the minimum amount for the checking account. There is definitely a minimum requirement for the amount to be deposited so your account will have funds and you can already issue checks for paying your church’s expenses. Monitor the remaining balance every time because there is a penalty for going below the required maintaining balance. Take note of the minimum maintaining balance and make sure the church’s checking account has enough funds to cover the expenses and still have the maintaining balance at the end of every transaction.