Setting up a Group Bank Account
Setting up a bank account is actually simpler than you might think. The three easy steps should work in almost all cases. If you have special circumstances and need help, please let us know!
- Check with your office of student activities about procedures.
Your campus might offer accounts for student groups (or even require that your group have an account through the school!). If not, you will have a little more liberty to shop around and find the option that truly fits your group the best. Some banks will give you awesome incentives, like a bonus for opening a new account. Credit unions can also be useful, and local ones are typically excited to work with student groups. Regardless, check with your office of student activities. They will know the rules and might be able to clue you into the best options.
- Set up that account!
Life is easy if your school manages this for you. If your school can't help, you can (fairly easily) get a normal bank account. You'll want to choose a bank that's close to campus, and you might want to shop around a bit to find a bank that won't charge you a ton of monthly fees. To set up the account you will need:
a. A small bit of money ($50 or so - an SSA reimbursement or grant check will usually work)
b. A copy of your constitution or bylaws
c. Two officers of the organization that can both go to the bank at the same time to set up the account
d. An Employer Identification Number (EIN). To obtain an EIN, yyou will need to go to the IRS. Believe it or not, it's very easy. You can apply for one online and they usually give it to you right away. More information and the application can be found here.
- Train your officers.
Now you've got a bank account! Aren't you all official? Train your officers on the proper procedure for handling money in the bank account, and create a set of bylaws to govern handling of money. The treasurer of your club will obviously handle the majority if this, but all officers should have have a basic grasp of the system. Remember to document your procedure for future generations of secular awesomeness. It will be very important that you have smooth leadership transitions to avoid losing control of your bank account. Be sure to go over the Leadership Transition Planning resource.
The question is occasionally raised as to whether a student group should apply for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The national SSA is implementing a system where experienced groups can apply for the benefits through SSA. Contact us if you'd like more information on that. Affiliates will be notified when the program is ready to launch.