The best banks for your nonprofit organization in 2022
Updated: Oct 23
Choosing a bank for your nonprofit organization is an important decision - it may even be one of your nonprofit's most important decisions. There are several factors your nonprofit will want to consider when choosing a bank. This article will help you in your decision-making process and focus on key nonprofit tips when it comes to choosing a bank.
Why choosing the right bank for your nonprofit is important
Choosing a bank for your nonprofit organization is different than choosing a bank for your personal funds or even for your business. Banks with experience working with nonprofits and their specific needs will be able to handle all the transactions, reporting, and unique requests your nonprofit has more efficiently than a bank that is less experienced in working with the nonprofit sector.
Since this will be a long partnership, you will want to feel like your nonprofit organization is a valued client of the bank you choose. They should be able to understand your organization's priorities and mission.
While you can always decide to change banks down the line, it is easier and less time-consuming to get the decision right the first time around.
The different types of banks you can choose from
Local banks can be a great option for nonprofits, especially because they too are usually smaller. These smaller banks may lack the massive resources and features a larger national chain offers, but they usually maintain a stronger connection with the local community and can see the work you do firsthand.
For example, if you run a local community nonprofit, a local bank may be personally familiar with your community initiatives and encourage bank staff to volunteer or participate in local fundraising events. Or, if you are part of a college fraternity or sorority, chances are the local bank will have more experience working with students or other organizations on campus.
If your local bank seems like the right fit, make sure you check that they have all of the resources and features that your nonprofit organization needs. A local bank could be the right option for your nonprofit if they do.
Commercial banks are known to have massive resources and offer a wide variety of features and amenities to their customers. These banks will have branches and ATMs in your local area as well as outside of your state.
While these banks are multinational, that does not necessarily mean that your nonprofit will not feel valued as one of its clients - this will depend on your relationship with the local branch managers and bank workers. If you get the feeling that most of your needs are going to be handled by a representative at a call center, a commercial bank may not be a good fit for your nonprofit.
Credit unions are local institutions that are owned by their participants, not-for-profit, and tax-exempt. They have a reputation for offering more personalized customer service with a focus on the local community and lower fees and loan rates.
Some larger national credit unions have local branches or credit unions that only work with certain affiliations like the military or educational institutions.
While credit unions will often offer lower-cost services and better interest rate options for both loans and deposits, banks will likely provide more services and products and more advanced technologies.
Bank selection checklist
Experience working with nonprofits
If a bank has extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations, they will be better suited to answer your questions and serve your needs. A good question to ask is, "How many nonprofits do you currently serve?"
If a bank understands the needs of a nonprofit organization, it will make your experience less time-consuming and less frustrating.
As a nonprofit organization, your values put your mission ahead of your profit. It is beneficial to partner with a bank that shares similar values – even if they exist to make a profit.
Ask if the bank gives back to their communities. Check the sponsorship lists of local fundraising activities like food drives, fun runs, and free seminars on financial management.
Working with a bank that gives back, and not just on paper, is important information to consider. If they give back to their community as a bank, they will appreciate this shared value with their clients.
If you are not careful, bank fees can add up quickly. Make sure that the bank you choose is upfront about its fees and conduct a side-by-side comparison of banking fees from the various banks you are considering to see how the fees differ.
Make sure you also consider what features you are getting with each bank – an extra fee may be worth it if you gain specific features that could be beneficial to your nonprofit. If the fees mean you will receive a higher level of service, it could be worth it to pay the extra cost.
On the other hand, if you realize you will be paying for services or features that your nonprofit does not need, you may want to consider negotiating for a better deal. Some fees are negotiable and the bank may be willing to waive certain fees if you do not intend on using a certain service.
While your nonprofit may not need a loan right now, there may be a time in the future when you will want to take one out. You do not have to take out a loan for your nonprofit from the same bank that handles your account, but it will make the process simpler.
Ask each bank you are considering what loan products they offer as well as the process for getting a loan to make sure they will be easy to work with if the time comes.
Think seriously about your nonprofit's needs
Make sure you make an honest assessment of your nonprofit's banking needs. For example, would your treasurer be okay with visiting a bank branch every time they need to make deposits and withdrawals? Does your nonprofit need extensive online banking features? Do you need a large network of ATMs? Make sure you take note of your answers to these questions when comparing the different services of each bank you are considering.
The 5 best banks for nonprofits in 2022
At the end of the day, the best bank for your nonprofit is going to be the one that matches most of your needs and values. The banks we selected for this list work well with nonprofits, however, you should evaluate each with your nonprofit's needs in mind. Good luck!
5. U.S. Bank
U.S. Bank is the fifth-largest banking institution in the United States. They have a dedicated webpage describing how they work with nonprofits and provide easy steps to open an account. Their "Community Possible" initiative facilitates both corporate and employee giving to various causes.
$300,000 in free cash deposits each year
No monthly maintenance fees
1,800 free transactions per year
Option to earn interest on some accounts
Depending on what area of the country you are in, they may not have as many branches
4. PNC Bank
PNC is headquartered in Pittsburgh with locations all over the globe. It’s the 7th largest bank by asset size in the US. PNC has specific nonprofit accounts and if you maintain a monthly average account balance of $500, your monthly fee can be waived. The PNC Foundation focuses on giving back to communities.
Monthly fee can be waived fairly easily
150 free transactions per month
Accounts specifically designed for nonprofits
Smaller number of branch locations in the US
Monthly fee (unless waived)
3. TIAA Bank
TIAA was created over 100 years ago by Andrew Carnegie and has become known for its mobile banking features. TIAA also has specific nonprofit accounts and gives back to the community by encouraging "financial literacy" and helping people to make smarter decisions with their money.
100% online banking
Availability of overdraft protection
Possible to earn interest on some accounts
Waiving monthly fee requires a $5000 minimum balance
Higher opening deposit required
2. Wells Fargo
While Wells Fargo is known as a traditional bank it has several features that make it a good fit for nonprofits. Wells Fargo's charitable giving efforts focus on promoting financial health, housing affordability, and small business growth. They offer up to two free non-Wells Fargo ATM transactions each month and have a minimum deposit of $25.
Specific nonprofit bank accounts
Easy to get the monthly fee waived
Substantial ATM coverage
Monthly fee (if not waived)
Limit on free monthly transactions
Yes, we are aware that we created this list and decided to put ourselves at the top of the slot, but since we cater our banking services to the needs of nonprofit organizations, we think we can easily justify the selection.
Crowded is a financial institution offering a full suite of banking and finance services specifically customized for nonprofit organizations.
In addition to our banking services, we also offer features that make it easier to manage your nonprofit money such as digital Visa® debit cards for members and our payment request feature that lets treasurers quickly and efficiently track and accept funds.
We also offer nonprofit budgeting tools, automated reports, and tax help.
No minimum balance, everyday account fees, sign-up costs, or monthly fees
Web portal and mobile app with nonprofit financial management features
Digital Visa® debit cards for members (no reimbursements necessary!)
FDIC-insured banking partner
Substantial ATM coverage
No physical branches
No headaches (just kidding, this is a pro)
Learn more about Crowded's offering and get answers to any of your questions by booking a free demo call.