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For Candidates

How to Open a Campaign Bank Account

2 min read
Piggy Bank
Good Party Politics Team · Mar 6, 2024

Opening a campaign bank account is a fundamental step for political candidates. It’s pivotal for ensuring that all of your campaign obligations can be fulfilled and that financial operations are conducted transparently, responsibly, and in strict adherence to legal guidelines. 

Join us as we walk through the process of opening a campaign bank account, with a focus on compliance with Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations. We’ll also provide information about selecting a bank and include some best practices for managing your political campaign's finances efficiently.

The Importance of a Campaign Bank Account

Somewhere between filing your intentions to run for office and planning your campaign launch, your campaign checklist should include opening a dedicated bank account to receive and manage campaign funds. A well-managed campaign bank account stands at the core of a transparent, legally compliant, and financially sound political campaign for several key reasons, including:

  1. Transparency and Accountability: A well-managed campaign bank account ensures that you have clear, trackable records of every financial transaction related to the campaign, from donations to expenditures.

  2. Legal Compliance: It helps the campaign to adhere to FEC guidelines and relevant campaign finance laws, which helps you avoid potential legal entanglements.

  3. Donation Management: Your campaign bank account facilitates secure receipt, deposit, and management of campaign contributions. This helps to ensure that everything is handled properly.

  4. Budget Management: A dedicated campaign account is instrumental for tracking the campaign budget and financial planning, which ensures that funds are allocated and spent where they’ll do the most good.

The process for opening a campaign account is a little more involved than your personal or business account. There are legal guidelines and compliance issues to contend with, and following them to the letter will contribute to your campaign’s image of transparency and trustworthiness.


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Legal Guidelines and FEC Regulations

Before you open a campaign bank account, it's crucial to acquaint yourself with FEC regulations and any state-specific campaign finance laws. Although the process for opening a campaign account is standard, some requirements can be different according to the office you’re considering and depending on your state. There could also be different requirements for independent candidates versus establishment politicians. 

 Generally, key considerations include:

  • Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN): Secure an EIN from the IRS for your campaign. This is your campaign’s federal tax ID.

  • Appointing a Treasurer: The campaign must have a designated treasurer. This person is responsible for the oversight of financial transactions and compliance with FEC reporting, so it should be someone with relevant experience and knowledge.

  • Registering with the FEC: Campaigns that exceed or anticipate exceeding $2,000 in contributions or expenditures must register with the FEC and provide detailed campaign information, including the name of your appointed treasurer.

Setting Up a Campaign Bank Account: Step-by-Step

When running a political campaign, your hometown bank may not be adequate. First of all, it’s essential that your campaign funds are kept completely separate from personal or business bank accounts, including any joint accounts you share with a spouse or business partner. 

Other than that, the process for opening a campaign bank account is as follows:

  1. Obtain an EIN: Apply for an EIN through the IRS website. The process of filling out and filing an IRS Form SS-4 is fairly straightforward and it can usually be completed online.

  2. Select a Bank: Opt for a bank with experience in handling campaign accounts. According to FEC guidelines, the bank must meet certain requirements, such as being FDIC or NCUA insured. The name and physical address of the bank must appear on the Statement of Organization for your campaign. It’s also important to consider factors such as service fees, offered services, and branch accessibility. Two critical requirements are ACH availability and FedWire participation. You can ask your current bank if they have experience with political campaign accounts or search for a bank that meets the qualifications outlined above. 

  3. Appoint a Treasurer: Officially appoint your campaign treasurer, who will manage the account and ensure financial reporting compliance. They will also be co-signing any disbursements and other transactions related to your campaign account. Ideally, all checks or transactions should be signed/conducted by both the candidate or campaign manager and the campaign treasurer, who are often separate people. 

  4. Gather Required Documents: In order for everything to proceed smoothly and on time, make sure that you have all of the necessary documentation in hand when you apply for the account. You will typically need: EIN documentation; identification for account signatories (usually the candidate and treasurer; campaign registration or FEC documentation; and campaign resolution authorizing the account's opening.

  5. Visit the Bank: Along with your treasurer and required documents, visit the bank to open the account. An appointment might be necessary for this type of account setup, so consider a larger branch with a physical location rather than an online bank. 

  6. Set Up Online Banking and Financial Tools: Even if you forego an online bank for a traditional institution, you should still register for online banking to help ensure streamlined financial management and reporting. It’s also important to consider adopting financial management software that’s specifically designed for campaign finance.

Best Practices for Managing Your Campaign Bank Account

Political campaigns can be expensive, and managing sometimes sparse campaign funds is critical. In order to maintain compliance and ensure that your campaign dollars are wisely spent, here are a few best practices for managing your campaign bank account:

  1. Keep Detailed Records: Keep comprehensive records of all transactions, including donations, expenditures, and bank statements.

  2. Regular Reconciliation: Consistently reconcile your bank account with your financial records to identify discrepancies promptly.

  3. Understand Reporting Requirements: Stay informed about and comply with all FEC reporting deadlines and requirements.

  4. Limit Access: Restrict account access to authorized individuals, such as the treasurer and candidate, to minimize unauthorized transactions.

  5. Review Bank Statements: Regularly check statements for discrepancies or unauthorized transactions. Ask if your bank can provide images or photocopies of the front and back of all electronic and physical checks for any transaction. 

  6. Use Dedicated Software: Implement campaign finance management software for efficient tracking and reporting of financial activities.

Final Thoughts

Opening and meticulously managing a campaign bank account is a cornerstone of running a successful political campaign. By diligently following the outlined steps and adhering to both legal guidelines and best practices, candidates can ensure that their campaign's financial operations are transparent, accountable, and fully compliant with FEC regulations. 

This diligence not only protects the campaign's integrity but also solidifies trust with supporters and the public. Remember, the foundation of a victorious political campaign lies not only in its ideas and values, but also in its operational excellence, transparency, and adherence to legal standards.

However, setting up and formalizing the campaign is just the first step. Comprehensive financial management should be paired with insightful, strategic campaign management. Good Party offers tools and resources that are designed to help independent candidates campaign smarter. 

Contact us to book a free demo and take your campaign to the next level. 


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How to Run for Office
Campaign Finance
Piggy Bank
By Good Party Politics Team
The politics team is focused on transforming the political landscape by promoting transparency, accountability, and positive change. They aim to engage citizens in the political process, encourage informed decision-making, and support candidates who prioritize the common good. Their mission revolves around creating a more fair and just political system, fostering collaboration, and breaking down traditional barriers of partisanship.