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Q&A with START

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Q&A with START

Published: July 12, 2022

START is a mental health charity based in Salford, Greater Manchester. We asked Justine Wallace, Deputy Director Business & Finance, about the benefits of using Unity Trust Bank as their charity bank.

How long have you been a customer of Unity Trust Bank?

Unity Trust Bank has been our charity bank since 2009 after we secured a loan on our premises in Salford.

We have three accounts: a donations account, a current account and a mortgage account.

We use the donations account to accept public and corporate donations. This helps with transactional transparency and makes it easier for us to administer our Gift Aid claims

We use our current account for everything else – everyday transactions, supplier payments, direct debits, receiving payments from customers, grant monies – and we use Unity’s Bacs system for our payroll.

Our mortgage account is for a loan from Unity used to purchase our premises in Salford.

How do you find Unity’s Internet Banking?

Unity’s internet banking is very user-friendly. It’s easy to find your way around, there’s good security with the two-factor authentication system and it’s easy for me to work from home as I just have to pop in an additional code to confirm another IP address.

I use Unity’s internet banking every day to check what money is coming in. There’s very rarely any downtime but if there is, we get good notice about it. That communication is really good. Online banking also lets us know about various things that are happening like two factor authentication.

Are there any additional benefits as a Unity customer?

It’s great having a relationship manager. Ours is Neil Cartwright. As well as being able to contact him directly, we liaise quarterly regarding our management information and have an annual review where we can provide any ancillary reporting or analysis he wants. He’s always really helpful and responds straight away.

Have you taken advantage of any specialist products Unity offer?

As a charity we had been discussing whether we should accept card payments and Neil told us that Unity Trust Bank had partnered with Elavon. Neil was very helpful and put us in touch with someone at Elavon so the process was very straightforward

We have a basic package, just the single terminal. We use it to accept payments from members who choose to join our qualification pathway. This means we don’t have to handle cash which is a benefit to us.

The immediacy of being able to accept card payments is an advantage for us. It is working fine and payments come in quickly, usually within 48 hours.

I’ve worked with banks before and they sometimes bombard you with products they are selling and try to upsell. I haven’t experienced any of that with Unity. Neil makes us aware of what’s available and if it’s right for us, such as Elavon, we will pursue it.

He recently told us about bulk faster payments and we said that was possibly something for the future. We’re happy to look at it at our next annual review but we don’t want to hear about it until then.

What are the other benefits from banking with Unity?

When we had three successive years of heavy losses we were put onto close monitoring at the bank. Unity took the time to sit down with us and allow us to explain where we were going with the business and how long it would take us. We built up trust and they were very responsive and took us off close monitoring as soon as it was appropriate so we didn’t have to have such intense scrutiny.