What Is a Donation Receipt?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2019
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A donation receipt is a proof of payment for a donation to charity. If the charity qualifies for special tax protections, the receipt may be used to claim a deduction on an income tax return. Charitable gift rules for taxes can be complex, and donors who intend to claim tax benefits may want to check with an accountant before making donations to get the most out of their charity dollars. If a donation will not be claimed on taxes, there is no need to keep the receipt unless the donor wishes to have proof of the donation for some other reason.

The donation receipt should provide name and contact information for the charity. It will also give information about the charity's nonprofit status, which the donor can use to determine if she qualifies for a tax deduction. The document notes the date and amount of the donation and will also include any special directions. Donors can earmark funds for specific activities, for example, or make a donation in the name of another person and ask to have a card or notification sent to that party.


For tax purposes, a donation receipt is necessary to claim any charitable donation. Taxpayers should store their receipts with other tax documentation until the statute of limitations on challenging tax declarations expires. If a receipt is provided in electronic form, the donor can print out a copy, or make a digital copy and retain it on a hard drive for printing in the future. It is important to review the donation receipt and correct any erroneous information as quickly as possible.

Sometimes charitable events and fund drives require donation receipts to provide benefits to participants. For example, a charity auction might have participants compete against each other to see who can give the most to charity. The donor with the largest donation receipt would win a prize, but she will need to produce the receipt to document the circumstances of the gift so the organizers can confirm that it qualifies. Likewise, donation receipts may be needed to enter charity balls and other events where the price of admission is a charitable donation.

Donors may choose to keep donation receipts even if they are not claiming them on their taxes if they want documentation of how they spend their charitable dollars. This can be important for estate planning, as it may allow survivors to decide how to dispense the proceeds of an estate to charity on the basis of past donation patterns. It will also help survivors understand why they may be getting less than they expected, in a case where donors give away the bulk of their assets to charity before death.


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