Looking Ahead to Donations Summaries


Robin Noah

This time of the year has the busiest and biggest donation months most non-profits will experience. It is a very busy time leaving little time for administrative duties. Some folks figure they can catch up in January.  

As I overview nonprofits I find that for many nonprofits January is always the busiest month of the year because in some cases end of year donation receipts are sent out to donors. If you are still doing this consider that you don’t have to send out donation receipts. There is no law that requires non-profits to send them out unless the donor specifically requests or if they are $250 or more. So you could save some time and money by not sending them out unless requested, or if during the year you included donation information on your thank you letter. Of course we do not want to devalue a chance to communicate with donors so maybe the process can be used to do a little marketing for the New Year. 

How about designing a letter that can be a Holiday greeting, a summary of the year to date donations and stories of how your mission is being carried forward … and how the donors’ contribution became a part of the successes. 

A non-profit organization needs to find an emotional connection to their existing and potential audience at hand 

It’s a good way of reminding donors how much they have given and even if they aren’t going to use it for tax purposes most people seem to appreciate it. However, if the letter is for tax deduction purposes remember that the deduction statement must meet the IRS requirements for a donation receipt. Here are highlights of the IRS Publication 516 that spells out the requirements. The letter must:  

  • Be written – or printed; no verbal receipts
  • Include the amount contributed
  • State whether the donor received any goods or services for the donation
  • Include the name of your organization
  • Include the date of contribution  

You can include other comments including a thank you for their continued contributions – now and in the future. If you have been sending receipts with donations as received and you included the 5 items shown above you do not need to send a summary letter.  

However; I recommend that your review the IRS rules to ensure that you are following the appropriate rules for the type of donations your organization receives.  

Note: This article is simply an overview and is not an advisory re taxi issues. The IRS or your CPA is your best resource for tax matters.

Author:  Robin Noah,  Executive Coaches of Orange County,  www.ECofOC.org