Banks 🏦

Hello there,

We recently switched from being with the school to being a community team. Which bank service do you guys use, we need one where teens can make deposits and withdrawals without an elder constantly autorizing us. We found bank.hackclub, which looks perfect. but I am curious to know what other teams use.

Additionally, since we are a community team, do we need to file for a non-profit status?

I’ve never been on a team that had the students with direct access to the money. Personally I never had an issue giving my mentors a parts list and going over with them before they order it.


Do you mind sharing a little about your team structure? It might help get you better advice. Getting a 501(c)(3) is a bit challenging.

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bank.hackclub allows teens to issue debit cards and get them delivered to us! However, they do ask for a 7% commission fee starting on September 1st, so that’s why I’m looking for other options.

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So we are all high school students and our mentors are our parents. We are looking for a more suitable mentor. We don’t have any seniors this year, and only a couple of juniors who know as much as we (sophomores) do. I do not think we need to file for a 501(c)(3) because the hackclub foundation provides us an NPO status if we use their service. I am not sure about the details, however, I know it has something to do with EIN and W-9.

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I would not give kids access to money. That is bound to fail in my opinion. Students should have a big voice in how the money is spend. But all it takes is one kid to ruin the whole season. I would look into having a head coach place orders by you guys putting what you need on like a spreadsheets etc. they look over it then order the product.


I think most adults have heard enough stories of embezzlement to be wary about setting up large amounts of money with wide access. Even as a community team, we had our bank account through the community schools which came with yearly audits.

We typically have two mentors (non-family) that have account access. Then from there we have any mentor that does purchasing access to the team credit card. Students get access to orders through those mentors, which isn’t too difficult.

Whether a team CC or individual purchase, we send receipts to a school secretary who checks against our CC bill or issues reimbursements. It has been good that the school has been willing to do that for us, and does protect against malfeasance.

edit: I would check locally with banks also about checking with debit cards and you might be able to not have a fee depending on the balance amount.

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If you are a 501(c)(3) non-profit:

  • Open a regular bank account at almost any bank. Many banks have free accounts for non-profits without meeting high minimum balance requirements. NerdWallet has a good list, also just ask around at local banks.
  • Try and find one that will let you get several authorized users, and even better if you have granular control over spending limits on individual debit cards, etc.

If you are a booster club or auxiliary organization of a larger organization:

  • Consult those organization’s policies and best practices. It’s not worth fighting them, even if you don’t like them.

If you are not a nonprofit, but want to be:

  • Think long and hard. If you really want to do this, find someone who has done it before, or a lawyer and/or accountant who can help with you the process. It can be long and hard, but may be worth it for you.

If you don’t want to be a nonprofit, but want the benefits of being one (like accepting tax-deductible donations, getting free/discounted products/services, etc.), consider fiscal sponsorship:

  • Hack Club is definitely one route you can go on this and they’re clearly trying to fill a niche in the FRC community. @zrl, @abbyhackclub/@abbyfischler, and other should be able to provide more info.
  • Another awesome organization is the similarly named Hack+ who was the fiscal sponsor for the SoCal Makers Covid-19 Response Team. They were awesome to work with.
  • There are hundreds of other organizations that can do this, check the directory.
  • Understand that you may not want “any nonprofit” to help you with this. While technically any nonprofit can become your team’s fiscal sponsor, all of your team’s activities must align with the fiscal sponsor’s mission. This may be a lot more stringent than an organization which is set up for the primary goal of fiscal sponsorship. In this way, a team likely falls within the mission of a school or booster club’s mission, but maybe not with the mission of a well-meaning local charity that wants to help but has a different mission, causing both of you the need to jump through a lot of hoops.

If you are not a nonprofit and decide to go the fiscal sponsorship route, I’d be sure to ask the following questions to a potential fiscal sponsor:

  • What rules are there for spending our money?
  • How do we access our funds and who can access them (e.g. do you need to submit requests for checks every time or do you get debit cards to use)?
  • Are our funds siloed from other projects or if we collect donations, is it possible they are used for other projects?
  • Are there any fees associated with becoming a sponsored project (you’ll often pay a management fee in exchange for certain services, especially from larger foundations)?
  • What services, if any, are provided other than banking?
  • What are the reporting requirements (e.g. do you need to categorize every expense, provide annual statements on activities, etc.)?

Well we are though a school so embezzlement is really not that easy lol. But I would have a lot of trusted adults have access to see the account balance but just not kids.

We foresaw that and only allowed the top leads (3 students) to have access to the bank.

Thank you for the very detailed and helpful explanation! I will discuss with the team about filing for a nonprofit. However, it seems there is an easier way to do it, using Hack Club or Hack+.

Just a word-

Non profits are a huge pain to file, often being a multi year endeavor.

Our team started the process in 2016, we didnt officially become a nonprofit til 2017.

If you are wanting to set up a non-profit, first identify ~3 parents, mentors, etc who are willing to go through all of the needed paperwork and other work to set it up. It is not a light process.

For other options at the moment, something like Hackclub or Hack+ are pretty good for this kind of thing. Another option would be to find a local 4H club. I notice you are located in Frisco, TX. Use the official search function on 4H’s website to find the closest one to you. From team’s I’ve talked to about this, a 4H club is very helpful with FRC teams, allowing easy access to funds, along with nonprofit status.

Final thing. As a student, I would never give students direct access to team funds. Make a few trusted mentors hold the credit card, and have the students communicate on what the team needs exactly. This will end up with the best solution, with the students having control over what is bought, but the mentors being able to stop a purchase that may not be advantageous to the team at the time.

William G. Golding Bank is likely a fitting solution.


And they require continuous maintenance to file taxes, keep the books, purchase the proper insurance and bonds, get volunteer officers, pay employees or contractors as needed (if the volunteers aren’t up to all the tasks such as accounting books), etc.

Two adults should suffice to act as purchasing agents for the team.

I know this team is successful and has 4-H affiliation
Stryke Force

And congratulations to the OP for expanding the team’s scope and influence. Non-profit is really hard, though, and it’s unfortunate OP’s school district was not willing to open team membership to all.

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It’s not that hard to file for 501(c)3 status, but it does cost $600 and you do have to have “corporate” officers, codify bylaws, have an official annual meeting, and do proper books and file regular tax returns. However, in my experience, it makes companies FAR more likely to make donations. One way for community FRC teams to get the benefits w/o all the work is to hook up with your local 4H.


It’s not the only route (see: Hack Club Bank), but I do endorse an existing structure like 4-H or similar for community teams. The banking is easy, the youth protection infrastructure is hard (and that’s something you’ve got to get right).

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Hey everyone, I wanted to chime in as the founder of Hack Club / Hack Club Bank and a FIRST alum from FRC team #1759 in southern California.

As others have mentioned, one good option is fiscal sponsorship, where you get:

  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, so donations are tax-deductible

  • (depending on the fiscal sponsor) Eligibility for corporate matching programs, so donations from employees at many companies are doubled

  • Managed fund within an existing foundation, so your funds are separated and backoffice work is taken care of for you (bookkeeping, taxes, donor receipts, etc)

  • Ability to get up and running quickly vs. waiting months for IRS to reply to 501(c)(3) / Form 1023 filing

When we started Hack Club in 2014, we originally started under a fiscal sponsor because we wanted to get up and running quickly. We incorporated in 2016 after our budget was in 6 figures and we had meaningful international operations.

We created Hack Club Bank in 2018 because so many Hack Clubs and hackathons needed a way to receive donations, manage those funds, and spend them. We tried partnering with other fiscal sponsors (there are many organizations that focus solely on providing fiscal sponsorship), but found that:

  1. They weren’t optimized for student groups
  2. They had minimum project budgets of $10-25K, which was too high, and high fees
  3. They didn’t have a web interface to manage funds - you had to correspond with someone over email.
  4. Some of them were unreliable and would take a long time to reply to emails

Hack Club Bank is a fiscal sponsor specifically designed for technical student groups, and today hundreds of hackathons and Hack Clubs run on it every year.

“FIRST is excited to be working with Hack Club Bank to simplify participation in our programs—it’s a game-changer!”

– Chris Rake, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, FIRST ®

Over the past year, we’ve been working with FIRST HQ to make Hack Club Bank available to FIRST teams. Here are some of the features:

  • 501(c)(3) nonprofit status through Hack Club

  • Beautiful web interface to manage funds. Ability to send ACHs, checks, invoices to sponsors, and to issue physical spending cards to coaches / team members. Multiple team members can be added to interface.

  • Eligibility for corporate matching donations. In the past year (2022-2023 school year), we processed $70,000 in corporate matches to groups on Hack Club Bank. We are already set up in most corporate systems (like Benevity).

  • Receive donations through almost any means: online credit card donations, GoFundMe, checks via mail, ACH / wire transfer, invoices to sponsors, stock donations, and more

  • Get reimbursed for team expenses by submitting your receipts online and getting a direct deposit in your personal bank account

  • Ability to transfer your fund to another fiscal sponsor or 501(c)(3) at any time

We ask for a 7% administrative fee to cover the cost of our operations (we have full-time staff to make sure Hack Club Bank is reliable and to provide support). We are a nonprofit ourselves, and this fee is on the low end for fiscal sponsors.

To get started on Hack Club Bank, go to and fill out the form at the bottom of the page - or feel free to email us with any questions at [email protected].

What your team’s fund looks like in Hack Club Bank (link):

Here is a flyer: Hack Club Bank for FIRST.pdf (1.5 MB)

Screenshot 2023-08-29 at 9.45.00 AM


To OP: Sorry. There is no way that I would let any of our student team members handle team money. And we limit how many mentors have access to our team account. In this case, the fewer, the better, for tighter controls, but need at least two to three for accounting purposes (both financial and legal). Have two or three of the parents sign up at hack club or go the nonprofit route on your own. There are definite perks and drawbacks for either. Good luck!


My team has a booster club (all parents, mentors, community members) as well as the actual team. The three booster club officers have unrestricted access to the team financials. One student has access to SOME of them i.e. budget and access to seeing cash flow and estimated revenue. However, mentors are the only ones who have access to the bank information, PayPal and only 2 members of the booster club have access to writing checks as reimbursements / having a team debit card. Currently we bank with First Citizens Bank they charge us $7.50 a month to bank with them but its been amazing. I’ve worked with other team that have used Wells Fargo which was also very nice to use. The booster club is a registered 501(c)(3) with and EIN and Tax ID so we do leverage on that for some grants as how we view it is the Booster Club is like a holding company that owns the team.

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I have no knowledge of the banking side of things, but I wanted to comment on who gets credit cards. We’ve found that we are best off trying to only put in one order per week per supplier, ideally on a specific day. (We try to put in orders so they arrive on Thursday or Friday for big build pushes on Saturday.) Going with one order per week per supplier reduces shipping cost and confusion over several orders coming in at random times, but it can also let you create a public shopping list for anyone to add to then have a designated mentor purchases everything. That way everyone (including students) can easily request purchases without giving everyone direct access to team funds. We have Amazon, AndyMark, REV, and McMaster split between two mentors and a few more mentors have team cards for local purchases, and travel.