There are a number of immutable facts in the world. One of them is that bank accounts bear the names of their owners. For individuals, this means a first and last name. In the case of corporations, it is the complete name of the particular company or charity in question.
In a perfect world, incoming checks and wires would bear the names of their intended accounts. Alas, this is not always the case. In particular, when payments are earmarked for a product/project/campaign rather than the organization that is running it. For example, “Save the Child Charity” receiving checks made out in the name of their recent holiday campaign, “No Child Goes Hungry.” (Both the organization and campaign are fictitious.)
There’s no greater buzz kill than your bank calmly telling you that they can’t credit your account because the beneficiary on the check or wire doesn’t match the name on the account.
Sometimes this incongruity occurs for the best of reasons. There’s nothing more satisfying than a new project that becomes so successful that it takes on a life of its own, sometimes, even dwarfing the company that produced it.
Other times, it’s simply the natural evolution of a nonprofit that’s running multiple programs simultaneously.
Finally, I’ve also seen this happen as a result of an organization that is better known by its initials rather than its full name.
While the reasons for this phenomenon may vary, the result is the same bureaucratic nightmare; there’s no greater buzz kill than your bank calmly telling you that they can’t credit your account because the beneficiary on the check or wire doesn’t match the name on the account.
To prevent this, today’s companies and nonprofits need to see things (though not everything) from the bank’s point of view. Financial institutions are afraid that money might be deposited into the incorrect account and that the bank might be construed as being complacent in this negligence – an act that carries a costly penalty.
Therefore, organizations need to understand the regulatory repercussions when discussing names in their marketing sessions. Having two separate identities isn’t just bad for name-recognition, but for banking as well. Having your brand name go viral or trend is a short-lived high when the checks start to bounce.
Companies and charities need to understand the regulatory repercussions when discussing names in their branding and marketing sessions.
However, what happens if it can’t be helped? For example, when two organizations join forces or a campaign has already started.
There is such a thing as a DBA (Doing Business As) name, essentially allowing the account to have two or more names associated with it. However, in Israel this is a universally accepted practice ONLY with individuals that register their business as “self-employed”
[esek-morsheh or esek-patur]. With companies or charities there is no universal practice and it is contingent on the bank/branch where the account is managed; some banks will allow a DBA to be added to the account name and other banks will not.
Therefore, depending on how critical the name issue is, you might have to find another bank (or operate two accounts).
While it’s true that not every aspect of our businesses is in our hands – as the above paragraph demonstrated – understanding what is amendable and what is inflexible can save you and your organization much time and headache.
So I end with this short prayer written by theologian Reinhold Niebuhr: “G-d grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”