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PTFA accounts- help(19 Posts)
Wondered if anyone who is or has been a PRFA treasurer (or treasurer for another small charity) could tell me if they did online banking and if so how? Our account seems to be in the dark ages but the school appear to be against online access as they are concerned that money could be more easily stolen (I think). My suggestion is that we use online access only to keep an eye on the amount and don't do online transactions but the bank cannot actually stop us from doing that so the school are not happy. I realise it isn't actually up to the school but upsetting them seems counterproductive. Thanks
You normally need more than 1 signatory to sign cheques for that type of account so having online banking means only 1 person can make transactions which doesn't make it very secure. We were offered the option of setting up online banking but I didn't feel it was as secure or transparent enough as 1 person could perform transactions that other signatories didn't know about.
We have a Metro Bank account and two signatories on cheques.
I think you need to get to understand the reasons why the school is being negative about this. Is there a past history of something going wrong?
In reality the PTFA is totally separate from the school and therefore under their own constitution can do whatever they want providing it is allowed by the constitution but I agree there is no point in upsetting the school more than is necessary.
Is the PTFA registered with the charity commission and Parentkind? If so they can offer you advise over what is sensible and realistic.
If you have 2 signatures on cheques (which our primary PTA had) then I can see moving to online would be a problem.
I don't think you could say we need two signatures but 'I promise not to do online transactions'.
I'm treasurer of our secondary and don't have online (because I'm a luddite). I keep a spreadsheet of in and out, and cross check each month against the bank statement. I keep two running totals a 'bank' and an 'accounting' balance. Accounting is assuming everything has cleared, the 'bank' is just what I have seen has gone through the bank.
It's best practice to use dual authorisation of all payments so it really depends whether your bank is set up to offer this online - I'd start with them. Some banks still only use single authorisation which I'd never be entirely happy to use as a Treasurer as dual authorisation also offers protection for the Treasurer.
Whilst the school may well have an opinion on how you run the account it's usually the PTA Committee's decision as they are usually the Trustees of the PTA assuming it's set up as a separate Charity. Trustees are legally responsible for all the affairs of the Charity.
The chair of our PTA insisted we started with online banking. I found it a nightmare when people made direct transfers in - half the time they didn't fill in the memo which told me who they were, or what they were paying for; or used a maiden name whereas they were known at school by their married name; or their account was in a company name.
There was often a timing difference also, between receiving a ticket booking form for the school ball or whatever, and receiving the related payment, whereas under the old system, cheques would come clipped to a form which gave all the info. So there was infinitely more cross-checking and reconciling, particularly where one person paid for a whole table.
And, of course, the two signatories thing for anything over a token amount.
I agree 2 signatures is best practice. We don't have it at the moment for secondary due to greater distances between where committee members live. It's a balance of risk v practicality.
Definitely agree with issue when people make direct payments in and having to correlate them.
However, you can now use something such as Eventbrite for online ticket management (though these sites take a cut).
If the PTA is a separate body it is up to the AGM to agree banking arrangements, not the school. However the PTA has to work with the school, and the school's name would be tarnished if there were an issue with the PTA, so it's best to be co-operative.
Some banks who do charity specific accounts enable you to have two person authorisation on online banking. One person sets the transaction up and another puts gets a message to do the authorisation.
If the two signatories is the school's issue then switching to a bank that offers this might be an option. Coop charity accounts for example have this functionality if you request it. As do others but I'm not sure which.
Lloyds & Nat West both allow 2 signatures.
Though changing / adding signatures always seems to be the biggest pain ever.
Its the 2 signatories that cause the issue as online banking usually means only 1 person carries out a transaction.
I manage the finances for a charity and we bank with CAF Bank (which is a bank dealing with charities with HSBC as the banking partner so can pay in cheques into their branches) and our banking mandate is set up so online payments have two 'signatures'. A payment is set up by one user and then authorised by a second user so no payment can go through unless two people have seen/checked it.
It works well and would recommend them.
Unity Trust Bank use a two person paying system. In our Youth Organisation the Treasurer sets up the payment and then it must be authorised by one of two nominated and approved committee members. The initial set up of the account requires all approved committee members to set up online and you have a username and passcode which has to be used for each notification requesting authorisation.
We don't have CAF, HSBC, Unity Trust bank (I've never heard of 2 of them!). It was bad enough changing signatories recently and coordinating meeting at the bank (Royal bank of Scotland ) never mind trying to set up a whole new account at a different bank.
mostlysinging has already mentioned CAF Bank. I am involved with the both the CAF Accounts for the scout group and church - any online payments have to be authorised by a second person (all done online).
It is usually possible for people to be set up with "viewing rights" only. Sou while your day to day banking would still be paper based you would be able to bite the account online but not undertake any transactions.
I agree that setting up/changing signatories is the biggest arse ache though. I've had to do it with Lloyds, hsbc and Natwest in the past and they were all appalling
We have a Lloyd’s treasurer account. It is set so 2 people are required to authorise a payment (so one person creates the payment, 2nd has to log in and authorise it before it is paid). Fairly sure it is also possible to have view only access (ie payments disabled, but able to logon to check statements and use app to pay in cheques etc)
Yep, you can use online banking and still have 2 people authorise a payment! How do you think big businesses do it! Lloyds and Natwest both offer this for charities, along with many others I'm sure
Thanks for your replies.
Yes the bank we currently use does not have a system for 2 people to authorise payments or for viewing only. That is the school's concern and I think it is reasonable (hence not wanting to fall out over it). Now that I know that other banks do allow this kind of set up I think I'll suggest we move bank. (I assumed big businesses had business accounts which would be different as in have a fee attached).
The school say they have a reputational interest in the PTFA (in that if we are criminal /disgraced etc then it would reflect badly on the school as we share part of their name).