Navigating Nonprofit Donation Receipts: Your Essential Roadmap [+Examples]

The Keela Team • Mar 17, 2022

What is a Donation Receipt? Why Are Donation Receipts Important?

Donation receipts are written records that acknowledge that a gift was given to an organization by a legally qualified/eligible donor.

There are a variety of qualified/eligible donees, depending on your country and region. Here are a few examples: 

  • Registered 501(c)(3) Charitable Organization (US)
  • Registered 501(c) Non-profit (US)
  • Registered Charities (CA)
  • Non-profit organizations (CA) 
  • Charity or Registered Nonprofit with an ABN # (AUS)
  • Charity registered with ACNC with DGR status (AUS)

These are only a few examples of types of qualified/eligible donees across the globe. In the United States (US) alone, there are 29 different types of 501(c) organizations. However, what unites the different types of organizations is the need to issue a receipt upon receiving a donation. 

Here is what should generally be included in a nonprofit donation receipt:

  • The donor’s full name
  • The nonprofit organization’s name
  • Unique Donation ID
  • Date of the donation
  • The amount of gifts received
  • Signatures from signing authorities

There are different rules regarding what to include in your receipt, depending on where you live. It is important to note that these rules and regulations can change.

It is best to go directly to your government’s websites to check for the exhaustive list of what to include. Details differ slightly when proving written acknowledgment in the US, a donation receipt in Canada, or a receipt in Australia.

Here’s how receipting is beneficial to your donors:

1. Tax Incentives

There are governmental incentivization programs for charitable giving in most countries and regions. Donation receipts are records of charitable contributions that provide donors with the documents they need to be eligible for these programs. 

For example, in the US, you can generally deduct up to 50 percent of your adjusted gross income based on charitable contributions made, which reduces your taxes owed. Additionally, the UK has a Gift Aid program that incentivizes giving to charities and community amateur sports clubs (yes, they love soccer or football). This program allows these organizations to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you give. That’s a bang for your buck!

2. Donation Confirmation

By giving receipts to donors, you eliminate any uncertainty that their donation wasn’t processed. Your donors can rest easy knowing that their money is being put to good use. Also, donation receipts help donors keep track of their finances. In that sense, donors greatly appreciate receiving donation receipts without having to ask for them. 

3. Stewardship Opportunities

Receipting is your nonprofit’s opportunity to begin the stewardship cycle. With donation receipts, you can send a heartfelt thank you message that will deepen the bond you share with your donors and encourage them to give again.What Does a Donation Receipt Look Like?

The Canadian Revenue Agency (Canada’s IRS) was nice enough to provide us with some examples of what a donation receipt should look like. Let’s take a look!

What Does A Donation Receipt Look Like?

The Canadian Revenue Agency (Canada’s IRS) was nice enough to provide us with some examples of what a donation receipt should look like. Let’s take a look!

Example of A Cash Gift Donation Receipt
Donation Receipt Example #1- A Cash Gift

As you can see, this example outlines the necessary components of a donation receipt (e.g., the donor’s full name, the nonprofit organization’s name, Unique Donation ID, etc.). 

Things can change a bit depending on the type of gift you receive. For example, if you receive a gift with an advantage attached or an in-kind donation, your receipt may look different.

Let’s take a look at how the Canadian receipt changes with an advantage attached.

Example of A Cash Gift with an Advantage Donation Receipt
Donation Receipt Example #2- A Cash Gift with an Advantage

There are a few new fields: total dollars received, the value of advantage, description of advantage, and the eligible amount.

To be clear, not all nonprofits need to have a receipt that looks just like the ones featured above, but your receipt must contain all of the information outlined by your local laws and regulations. 

Try this free online receipt generator to create a donation receipt that’s right for your organization. A better alternative is a nonprofit management software platform like Keela. With Keela, you can customize and automatically send out donation receipts in the blink of an eye.

Donation Receipt Template graphic

Use this FREE Donation Receipt Template to Get Started!

Download this donation receipt template to help properly track donations at your nonprofit and ensure that your donors can claim their gift on their taxes.

The Role of Donation Receipts in Donor Retention

Expressing Gratitude:

Donation receipts offer a valuable opportunity to express genuine gratitude to your donors. When crafting a receipt, consider incorporating a personalized message of thanks. Address the donor by name, and highlight the specific impact their contribution will have on your organization’s mission. This personal touch demonstrates that their support is recognized and valued, which can go a long way in cultivating a sense of belonging and appreciation. 

Reinforcing the Impact:

Donors want to know that their contributions are making a difference. Donation receipts provide an ideal platform to reinforce the impact of their support. Include concise and compelling stories that showcase how donations have directly benefited your cause or the individuals you serve. Share testimonials, statistics, or real-life examples that illustrate the transformative power of their contributions. By emphasizing the tangible outcomes made possible by their generosity, you are reinforcing their connection to your mission and strengthening their belief in the importance of ongoing support. 

Transparency and Accountability:

Transparency and accountability are essential in building trust with donors. Use donation receipts as an opportunity to provide transparent information about how their funds are being utilized. Include a breakdown of how their contribution will be allocated and explain how it aligns with your organization’s goals. When donors feel confident that their money is being used effectively and efficiently, they are more likely to continue their support.

Beyond the Receipt:

While the donation receipt is the primary purpose, consider leveraging this touchpoint to encourage further engagement. Include information about upcoming events, volunteer opportunities, or other ways for donors to get involved. By demonstrating the breadth of your organization’s activities, you invite donors to become more deeply engaged in your cause, fostering a long-term commitment.

Timing and Frequency:

Consider the timing and frequency of donation receipts. While it is important to send a receipt promptly to acknowledge the contribution, ensure that you do not inundate donors with too many emails or physical mailings. Striking the right balance is crucial to avoid donor fatigue. Explore the option of sending personalized receipts on significant milestones, such as anniversaries of the first donation or when a specific fundraising goal is reached. These targeted acknowledgments create moments of celebration and highlight the donor’s ongoing impact.

When Are Donation Receipts Due?

It’s best practice to always send a donation receipt after each donation. 

Donors shouldn’t have to ask you to acknowledge their contribution. Given the benefits and opportunities it presents, receipting should be considered an essential practice for your organization. 

While you could probably scrape by not providing receipts for a short period, donors cannot claim a tax deduction without written official confirmation, and they will be disincentivized to give. 

Getting started with donation receipting can be challenging. Without the right systems in place, It can be time-consuming. Some nonprofits set a threshold for receipting. 

For instance, you can decide to send donation receipts only to people who donate more than $20. However, as previously mentioned, the best solution is to invest in nonprofit management software that automates the process for you by sending receipts out immediately after a contribution is made. 

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that for donations made in the US, donors must receive a written communication for any monetary contribution of less than $250 to be able to claim a tax return;  for example, a thank-you note acknowledging the contribution. For single contributions of $250 or more, donors need a written acknowledgment, such as a donation receipt, to claim tax returns.

What are the Requirements for Charitable Donation Receipts in the United States and Canada

There is no standard format for donation receipts; you can choose to send out letters, postcards, or online receipts. 

However, as mentioned above, there are some required elements you always need to include when writing your donation receipts. Depending on the country where your nonprofit is registered, you’ll need to follow additional legal requirements.

  • Name of the organization to which the donation has been made 
  • Name of the donor 
  • Amount of cash contribution 
  • Description (but not value) of any non-cash contribution (if applicable)
  • A statement that the organization provided no goods or services (if applicable)
  • Description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that the organization provided in return for the contribution
  • A statement that any goods or services that the organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits (if applicable)
  • Take a look at the IRS website for more information
  • Name and address of the organization to which the donation has been made 
  • Name and address of the donor 
  • Amount of the gift 
  • Value and description of any non-cash contribution 
  • Unique serial number of the receipt  
  • Charity’s registration number issued by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • The location where the receipt was issued (city, town, municipality)
  • Date the donation was received
  • Date the receipt was issued 
  • The eligible amount of the gift
  • Signature of an individual authorized by the charity to acknowledge gifts 
  • Name and website address of the CRA 
  • Take a look at the CRA website for more information

Donation Receipts and Donor Privacy

When it comes to handling donation receipts, it is crucial to prioritize donor privacy and confidentiality. Donors place their trust in organizations when making contributions, and respecting their privacy is paramount. Here are some key points to consider regarding the importance of donor privacy and best practices for protecting donor information while ensuring compliance with data protection regulations:

Donor Trust and Confidentiality:

Donor privacy is essential for maintaining trust and fostering long-term relationships. Donors expect that their personal information, such as name, contact details, and financial data, will be handled securely and kept confidential. Respecting their privacy rights is not only ethically important but also crucial for maintaining a positive reputation and encouraging future donations. 

Legal and Regulatory Compliance:

Organizations must adhere to relevant data protection regulations and privacy laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States. These regulations establish guidelines for the collection, storage, processing, and sharing of personal data, including donor information. Compliance helps ensure that donor privacy is protected and avoids potential legal consequences.

Collecting and Storing Donor Information:

When collecting donor information, it is important to be transparent about how the data will be used and to obtain explicit consent from donors. Only collect the information necessary to process donations and provide accurate receipts. Implement robust security measures to protect donor data, such as using secure servers, encryption, and access controls. Regularly review and update your data protection policies to align with evolving best practices and regulatory requirements.

Internal Data Access and Handling:

Limit access to donor information to only authorized personnel who require it for their specific roles. Implement strict protocols for handling and storing physical and digital donation records. Train staff on data protection practices, emphasizing the importance of confidentiality and privacy. Regularly audit data access logs and monitor for any unusual activity with log monitoring tools to promptly address potential breaches or unauthorized access.

Donor Consent and Communication:

Respect donors’ preferences regarding communication and data usage. Provide clear options for donors to opt-in or opt-out of receiving future communications or having their data shared with third parties. Regularly review and update your opt-in and opt-out processes to ensure compliance and respect donor choices.

Third-Party Service Providers:

If you engage third-party service providers to handle donor information, such as payment processors or customer relationship management systems, conduct due diligence to ensure they have appropriate data protection measures in place. Establish written agreements that outline their responsibilities and obligations regarding donor privacy and confidentiality.

Transparency in Financial Reporting:

Demonstrate transparency by providing accurate and detailed financial reports to donors. Ensure that donation receipts include the necessary information for tax purposes while balancing the need to protect sensitive data. Strive to strike a balance between providing enough information to satisfy legal requirements and respecting donor privacy preferences.

By following these best practices, organizations can uphold donor privacy and confidentiality, fostering trust and maintaining compliance with data protection regulations. Respecting donor privacy is not only the ethical thing to do but also a vital aspect of sustaining successful fundraising efforts and long-term relationships with donors.

Donation Receipt Best Practices and Examples of Effective Donation Receipts 

1. Store copies of donation receipts

It’s essential to have your own filing system. Keeping track of the donation receipts you’ve issued just makes good sense and keeps everything in order. 

If you ever need proof of a donation, a copy of a receipt, or to reissue a receipt, your filing system will be your best friend. It doesn’t matter whether you store these records physically, digitally, or in both ways.

Pro Tip: If you store your donation receipts on a cloud-based system, download the records onto a physical hard drive at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, or annually). This way, you always have a backup in case data is lost. 

2. Use a unique serial number or a Donation ID

Giving each donation a unique serial number or donation ID is an easy way to keep your records organized. Serial numbers allow you to search your files with ease, associate groups of receipts with specific periods, and provide each receipt with an identity that encapsulates the rest of its information. A nonprofit software like Keela will create serial numbers and save you time and effort. 

3. Keep formatting consistent

Whether you issue a donation receipt online or in person, make sure the format is consistent. With the help of a CRM, maintaining receipt consistency is easy, as your software will allow you to stick to the format of your choice. 

If providing receipts in person, print out a receipt template and stick to it. This way, you won’t have to deal with multiple formats or random sheets of paper. You also reduce the risk of forgetting to collect information that your organization needs.

4. Send a “Thank You” with your receipt

Although the receipt process is very transactional, when you build strong relationships with your donors, you should look for every opportunity to be relational. By sending a thank-you letter or note along with the donation receipt, you can do just that. 

Appreciative gestures transform an administrative necessity into an opportunity to build further goodwill. Receipts are nice, but they aren’t necessarily a great way to say “Thank You.”

The cover page of the "Thank You Guide for Nonprofits"

Turn your donors into lifelong supporters with personalized thank-you messages!

Proper stewardship practices such as expressing gratitude to your donors can help increase donor engagement. We have created customizable templates to help get you started!

5. Be clear about what is tax-deductible

Different countries and regions have strict rules about what gifts can be tax-deductible. It is essential to be informed and transparent about what is and isn’t tax-deductible, as many types of contributions to nonprofits don’t have tax implications. 

If you’re not sure about the rules in your country, check out your government website. The IRS in the US, the CRA in Canada, and the ATO in Australia all have different regulations about charitable giving tax incentives. 

Pro Tip: Avoid putting a line on your tax receipt that indicates the gift will be tax-deductible. Oftentimes, donation receipt templates will include these lines at the bottom, which can be problematic when you inevitably accept a gift that isn’t tax-deductible.

Have a conversation with the donor in person after you’ve had an opportunity to do the research. Save yourself a headache down the line!

Now, let’s explore a few examples of well-designed and informative donation receipts from nonprofit organizations. These examples highlight key elements that make these receipts effective:

Example 1:

  • Clear donation details: The receipt includes the donor’s name, donation amount, date of donation, and a description of the purpose or campaign for which the donation was made.
  • Organization branding: The receipt prominently displays the organization’s logo, name, and contact information, reinforcing brand recognition.
  • Personalized message: A personalized message expressing gratitude and explaining how the donation will make a difference is included, creating a connection between the donor and the organization.

Example 2:

  • Clear donation details: The receipt provides a breakdown of the donation amount, indicating the tax-deductible portion and any non-deductible amounts.
  • Organization branding: The receipt incorporates the organization’s color scheme and logo, maintaining consistency with their overall visual identity.
  • Personalized message: A personalized message is included, addressing the donor by name and expressing sincere appreciation for their contribution.

By incorporating these elements, you can create donation receipts that are both informative and visually appealing, leaving a positive impression on your donors while ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

Remember, these examples are meant to inspire you in designing effective donation receipts. Customize them to align with your organization’s unique brand and donor communication style.

Common Challenges in Managing Donation Receipts

Managing donation receipts can pose various challenges for nonprofits like yours. It’s important to overcome these obstacles to maintain accurate records and ensure compliance with tax regulations. Here are some common challenges you might encounter and tips for overcoming them:

1. Tracking and Organizing Receipts:

One challenge is efficiently tracking and organizing donation receipts. With a large number of donors and transactions, it can become overwhelming. To address this, consider implementing a systematic approach. Utilize digital record-keeping systems or cloud-based tools to store and categorize receipts by date, donor, and amount. This will make retrieval and verification easier when needed.

2. Ensuring Timely Issuance:

Another challenge is issuing donation receipts in a timely manner. Donors often require receipts promptly for tax purposes, and delays can cause frustration. To avoid this, establish a process that ensures receipts are generated and sent promptly after receiving donations. Automating this process using software tools can save time and streamline the receipt issuance workflow.

3. Maintaining Accuracy and Compliance:

Maintaining accurate and compliant donation receipts is crucial. Nonprofits must adhere to tax regulations and provide donors with receipts that meet the necessary requirements. Develop a standardized template for charitable donation receipts that includes all required information, such as the nonprofit’s name, tax-exempt status, donor details, donation amount, and date. Regularly review and update the template to ensure compliance with changing regulations.

4. Handling In-Kind Donations:

In-kind donations, such as goods or services, can present additional challenges. It’s important to accurately record the fair market value of these donations. Implement a process for assessing and documenting the value of in-kind donations. Seek professional assistance if necessary, such as engaging appraisers for high-value items. Integrating software tools specifically designed for tracking and valuing in-kind donations can simplify this task.

5. Auditing and Reporting:

Nonprofits are often subject to audits and are required to provide detailed reports on donation receipts. This can be time-consuming and stressful if your records are not well-organized. Implement an efficient record-keeping system that allows for easy retrieval of receipts and related information. Consider using software tools that provide reporting capabilities to generate accurate and comprehensive reports when needed.

6. Donor Communication:

Communicating with donors regarding their receipts can be challenging, especially if there are discrepancies or issues. Establish clear channels of communication with donors to address any concerns or questions they may have. Provide prompt responses and ensure transparency throughout the process. Utilize email or donor management systems to track and document these interactions for future reference.

Remember, leveraging technology can greatly assist in managing donation receipts. Explore software solutions specifically designed for nonprofit organizations, such as donor management systems or accounting software with receipt management features. These tools can automate processes, streamline workflows and donor journeys, and enhance accuracy. This will help your nonprofit stay organized, compliant, and focused on your mission.

How to Issue Tax Receipts for Donations

There are two schools of thought when it comes to issuing receipts. The first says to issue them immediately after the donation takes place. The other says to issue them at the end of the year in a cumulative receipt. Both options are effective and have their pros and cons.

1. Issue donation receipts right after each contribution

When you issue a donation receipt right after each contribution, you help donors feel more engaged. The immediacy of your response will prove that your nonprofit is responsive and truly on top of things. 

Also, issuing donation receipts right away may go a long way in soliciting future donations, as donors will remember the timeliness of your sincere gratitude. However, if you decide to issue receipts right away, you commit yourself to the process of constant receipting, even during times when it may be inconvenient. 

2. Issuing donation receipts at the end of the year

When you issue tax donation receipts all at once, you can reduce the amount of overall admin work your accountant has to do within a given year. When every donation from an individual within a given year is consolidated into one record you have to send out fewer communications, saving some time. 

Consolidating receipts allows donors to stay more organized. They will worry less about losing individual receipts that were issued to them earlier in the year.

However, the end of the year, also known as the giving season, is typically the busiest time for fundraisers. This means that your accountants may not have time to manage the mass production of receipts. 

Also, when your donors file their taxes, there will be a variance in when they want their receipts. Some donors will wish to have their receipts immediately so they can apply for a tax benefit at a time that works best for them. It is helpful to send them receipts in advance of the tax-filing season. 

Keeping Up with Digital Donation Receipts

Keeping up with digital donation receipts means embracing the growing trend of digital transactions and shifting toward electronic receipts for donations. This transition offers numerous benefits, including cost savings, convenience, and environmental sustainability. By going digital, nonprofits can streamline their receipt processes, reduce paperwork, and ensure compliance with legal requirements. Here’s are some tips to help your organization transition smoothly and effectively:

Cost Savings: Digital donation receipts can significantly reduce administrative costs associated with printing, paper, and postage. By eliminating the need for physical receipts, nonprofits can allocate these savings to their mission, ensuring that resources are maximized for impact.

Convenience: Digital receipts provide convenience for both the nonprofit organization and donors. When a donor makes an online donation, an instant electronic receipt can be generated and sent directly to their email. This eliminates the need for manual processing and mailing, making the donation process quicker and more efficient.

Environmental Sustainability: The shift toward digital receipts aligns with the goal of environmental sustainability. By reducing paper consumption, your organization can contribute to a greener and more eco-friendly approach. This not only reduces waste but also aligns with the values of many donors who are conscious of environmental issues.

Making Issuing Donation Receipts Easier

With Keela, a powerful nonprofit management software, this dream becomes a reality. Keela is specifically designed to streamline various aspects of nonprofit operations, including the process of managing donation receipts.

One of the key features of Keela is its customizable receipt templates. You can create professional-looking receipts tailored to your organization’s brand and style. Whether you prefer a formal or creative design, Keela offers flexibility to match your needs. With customizable templates, you can effortlessly generate receipts that leave a lasting impression on your donors.

Keela takes automation to the next level by providing automated receipt generation. Once you set up the software, it can automatically generate receipts for each donation received. This feature eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces the risk of human error. With Keela, you can focus more on your mission and spend less time on administrative tasks.

Keela also prioritizes compliance and reporting. The software helps you stay in line with relevant tax regulations by generating receipts that meet the necessary requirements. You can rest assured that your organization is adhering to legal obligations when it comes to issuing donation receipts. Additionally, Keela offers robust reporting capabilities, enabling you to access detailed donation records and generate insightful reports effortlessly.

Effective donor communication is vital for any nonprofit, and Keela recognizes this importance. The software enables you to send personalized thank-you messages and receipts to your donors automatically. This thoughtful approach helps build strong relationships with your supporters, enhancing donor retention and engagement.

Set up your donation receipt template using Keela!

Keela makes tax receipting easy. Learn how you easily set up, design, and manage your nonprofit’s receipts directly in Keela’s CRM.

Maximizing the Potential of Donation Receipts for Fundraising

You’re passionate about maximizing the potential of donation receipts for fundraising, and you’re eager to explore additional ways nonprofits can leverage these receipts to enhance their efforts. You understand the importance of utilizing every opportunity to engage donors and create a lasting impact. Here are some strategies you can consider:

  1. Calls-to-Action: Include clear calls-to-action, encouraging donors to engage further, share their contribution, or participate in events.
  2. Impact Statements: Highlight specific outcomes and achievements made possible by the donor’s support to demonstrate the impact of their contribution.
  3. Storytelling Elements: Incorporate compelling narratives of those positively impacted by donations to evoke emotions and inspire continued giving.
  4. Customization and Personalization: Tailor receipts with personalized messages, addressing donors by name and expressing gratitude for their specific contribution.
  5. Additional Fundraising Opportunities: Promote upcoming events, campaigns, or volunteer opportunities to expand donor engagement.

Remember, the key is to be creative, informative, and intentional with your donation receipts. By incorporating these strategies, you can transform a simple receipt into a powerful fundraising tool, engaging donors on a deeper level and inspiring continued support for your nonprofit’s mission.


Donation receipts play a crucial role in the nonprofit sector, benefiting both organizations and donors. For nonprofits, these receipts demonstrate gratitude, accountability, and transparency, fostering trust with supporters. By promptly issuing accurate donation receipts, nonprofits can build lasting relationships with donors and showcase their commitment to responsible financial management.

Donors also benefit significantly from donation receipts. These documents provide a record of contributions, simplifying tax reporting and deductions while ensuring compliance with regulations. Donation receipts serve as a tangible reminder of the impact donors are making and protect against potential legal issues. Overall, donation receipts are a vital tool that strengthens the bond between nonprofits and donors, advancing the noble pursuits of philanthropy and making a lasting positive impact on the causes they support.