Donation receipts are both a legal requirement and an important part of taking care of your supporters. In this article, we are going to explain how donation receipts work, outline their basic features, and share 6 nonprofit donation receipt templates that you can customize and make your own.
Who is this template for?
This template is for all nonprofit organizations.
What are the main sections covered in this template?
Editable donation receipt template that you can adjust to your nonprofit's branding.
Nonprofit donation receipts are both a legal requirement and an important part of nurturing your supporters.
If you’re new to the nonprofit world and have never created a donation receipt before, don’t stress—in this article, we are going to explain how donation receipts work, outline their basic features, and share 6 nonprofit donation receipt templates that you can customize and make your own.
Let’s get started.
How Do Donation Receipts Work?
Donation receipts are a legal way to both prove that a donor has given your nonprofit a gift and that the gift was received and accepted.
The IRS requires that any gift over $250 made to a nonprofit be receipted. However, it’s best practice to acknowledge every gift—no matter its size—with a receipt and a thank-you letter.
A nonprofit charitable donation receipt can also be used by the donor for tax purposes. Charitable giving deductions can reduce the amount of income tax owed to the government, and for some donors, tax deductibility is often a big incentive to give.
Of course, there are exceptions to a standard donation receipt. One exception is if you receive a “quid pro quo” gift. These are common receipts sent out after special events or galas. Hypothetically, a donor could contribute $100 to the nonprofit, and in return, receive a ticket to a sporting event worth $40. The deductible amount is then actually $60.
A nonprofit accepting a gift-in-kind does need to acknowledge the gift’s receipt, but it’s the donor’s responsibility to determine the gift’s value. For large in-kind gifts such as a vehicle donation or donation of a work of art, the IRS requires that the donor pay for a professional appraisal of the item.
And a third exception is with grants awarded by a foundation or government entity. While you definitely need to thank the funder and comply with any post-award reporting requirements, a nonprofit donation receipt is not needed unless the funder requests one.
Make it your habit to send donation receipts quickly, within 24 to 48 hours after you’ve received a gift. If your nonprofit provides donors with a year-end receipt of their total giving, don’t stop that practice. But do send a receipt acknowledging each individual gift as well.
And don’t forget that for first-time donors, a donation receipt is one of the first interactions they’ll have with your nonprofit. It’s important to make a good first impression and begin to build that (hopefully) long-lasting relationship.
Using a donation receipt template—which we will share a few of below—is a convenient way to make sure your nonprofit nurtures these relationships and remains in compliance with the Internal Revenue Service.
Basic Features of 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Donation Receipts
There are legal requirements for what information must be included on a nonprofit donation receipt. Should your organization fail to meet these requirements, you’re at risk of losing your tax-exempt status. That’s a big price to pay for a careless error.
The IRS requires the following to be included on any donation receipt:
Your organization’s name
The amount of cash donated
A description of the donation with no value given for gifts-in-kind
A statement that no goods or services were provided by your nonprofit organization if that is the case
If your organization provided goods or services in return for a gift, that must be disclosed
For churches, synagogues, or mosques, a statement that goods or services, if any, provided in return for the donation consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits
As best practice, a donation receipt should also (but is not legally required to) include:
The donor’s name
The donor’s address (or email address if the gift was made online)
Any restriction to the gift
The date the gift was received
Your organization’s EIN
If the donor requested anonymity, a statement that their name will not be divulged.
Next, we’ll take a look at some free nonprofit donation receipt templates that are suitable for just about every type of gift your nonprofit might receive.
Free Nonprofit Donation Receipt Templates to Work On
Below we have listed some of the best nonprofit donation receipt templates we could find. We’ve included templates you can use for cash gifts, in-kind donations, a vehicle donation, and even a quid pro quo gift.
While these templates are a great place to start, since a gift receipt is actually a legal document, it’s a good idea to consult with your organization’s attorney before finalizing your receipting document.
All-Purpose Donation Receipt Template
RocketLawyer offers a free simple 501(c)(3) nonprofit donation receipt template that can be totally customized. Simply select your state from a drop-down menu and download the template. Then you can customize it or put it on your letterhead. This is a fine basic template to accompany a thank-you letter or to be sent on its own.
Basic Nonprofit Donation Receipt Template in Excel
This basic donation receipt template is just the right size to slip into a folded thank-you letter. Of course, you can customize the colors since it’s an Excel template. You can also add your own branding to this template by adding your organization’s logo.
Note: we don’t recommend using this template for gifts-in-kind.
Nonprofit Donation Receipt Letter Template
Combining your nonprofit donation receipt with a thank-you letter can be a great tactic. Here’s a free nonprofit donation receipt letter template you can customize and easily generate. It’s downloadable as a PDF, but if you have Acrobat Pro, it’s simple to turn that PDF into a Word document.
In-Kind Donation Receipt Template
This template for a gift-in-kind can be customized for use by any type of nonprofit. Remember: the IRS requires that gifts-in-kind be valued by the donor, not by the receiving nonprofit.
Nonprofit Donation Receipt Template for Vehicle Donation
Many nonprofits augment their fundraising efforts by using a third party to help them facilitate donations of vehicles or boats. This template is useful if you are planning on developing such a program.
Quid Pro Quo Charitable Gift Receipt Letter
Although designed for churches, this quid pro quo receipt letter can easily be tweaked for other nonprofit organizations. Note the clear wording setting forth the value of the benefit (dinner) versus the actual deductible amount. This template is a keeper for any 501(c)(3) that hosts events.
Tips for Designing a Nonprofit Donation Receipt
As you embark upon creating (or updating) your nonprofit donation receipt letters, keep these suggestions in mind.
Use Your Branding
Always use your nonprofit’s letterhead or logo on your donation receipt.
You should also use your nonprofit’s approved color palette and preferred type font. A donation receipt is a donor-facing communication, so make sure those receipts harmonize with the rest of your marketing materials. You can check out this nonprofit branding guide for more insights and tips.
Keep Formatting Simple
The last thing you want is for your donors to struggle to understand or read their donation receipts.
Keep the formatting of your receipt simple and streamlined. Make it easy for the donor (and yourself!) to understand each part of the receipt. If your donors skew toward the older side, consider bumping up your font size by a point or two. We’ve seen donation receipts with nearly microscopic print—don’t force your donors to get out a magnifying glass!
Send a Personalized Thank-You Note
Even though you’re only legally required to send a receipt, including a personalized thank you note is a great way to steward your donors and show them how much you appreciate their support. Taking the time to write a personalized thank-you note can make a strong positive impression on the donor.
Bonus tip: Sending an image along with your thank-you letter can remind donors why they gave in the first place and can subtly show them the tangible results of their generosity. Donors love to see the impact of their gifts and it can help them feel more connected to your mission in the long-run.
Wrapping Up: How Instrumentl Can Help
When done well, a good donation receipt with a thank-you letter packs a one-two punch. First, it provides proof that a gift has been made, fulfilling the IRS’s requirements. Second, it shows your donors how much you appreciate their gift and the impact that it makes.
If you’ve never created a donation receipt before, we hope you can use the templates we’ve shared in this post as a solid starting point.
With the right tools, nonprofits can quickly scale fundraising and programming and take back their time. But, what makes something the “best” tool? And how do you justify an additional expense in a resource-constrained organization? Download this guide to learn more.