Anatomy of a Great Donation Receipt

Fundraising by Type

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Real talk: having a great donation receipt is important. But it’s something many nonprofits overlook.

A great donation receipt does more than send a donor the details of their donation. It shows them the impact they made with their gift. It tells them how important they are. And it makes them feel good about themselves. They’re great for tax purposes, but they’ll also help you inspire and retain your donors.

So what does a great donation receipt look like?

Let’s break it down! Here’s a receipt for the Lakeland Food Pantry*.

A Great Donation Receipt Grabs the Reader’s Attention


Donation Receipt Header

If you’re required to send a donation receipt, you should make the most of it. Adding a powerful image and impact statement will grab readers’ attention. It also reinforces their decision to give and extends the “warm fuzzies” we all feel when we give.

The Lakeland Food Pantry’s mission is to feed community hungry community members. Here, we used an image of a mother and child eating lunch together. This image hints to the reader that they’re cold (look at their clothes!), that the organization is family-friendly, and that real families benefit from the Pantry’s services.

Before they see anything else, donors see this picture and get a huge “thank you!” and impact statement from the organization. This is a really powerful way to reiterate how special the donor’s gift is to the community!

This sets a great tone for the body of the receipt.

A Great Donation Receipt Tells Donors Why They Matter

Donation Receipt Body 1

Donors want to know two things. They want to know that they can make the world a better place, and they want to know that their efforts are recognized. Give your donors what they want!

Instead of a dry, boring “thank you for your donation of ___ to blah, blah, blah,” tell donors that their gift matters. Tell them how you’ll use it. Say thank you. It makes a difference! If you tell your donors that you see and appreciate their gift, they’re much more likely to give again.

A few important notes for this section:

  • The salutation is personalized! This is a small detail that can make a big impact.Technology today makes it so easy to insert personalized salutations; there’s no reason to exclude a greeting or, worse, to use “valued donor” or “sir or madam.” Just don’t do it!
  • The first paragraph is short and sweet. In two sentences, it says “thank you,” states your impact, and states the donation amount. Boom.
  • Paragraph #2 elaborates on how the donation will be used. It also introduces Laura and her daughter.

A Great Donation Receipt Makes Your Mission Personal

Donation Receipt Body 2

A famous quote says that a single death is a tragedy and that thousands of deaths are merely a statistic. It’s true! Statistics are numbing. Individual stories are compelling. Millions of people all over the world go hungry, but “millions” are often less compelling than a mom and her daughter.

Put human faces to your mission! This receipt shows donors that they make a real difference in real peoples’ lives. When you’re facing overwhelming statistics, this is a powerful way to show donors the real impact they can make with their support. They’re not just throwing money at a global problem; they’re feeding real people. What a feeling!

A Great Donation Receipt Keeps Donors Engaged

Donation Receipt Body 3

One of the best ways to keep donors engaged is to tell them you’ll be in touch. It’s even more effective if you tell them why you’ll be in touch… and even more compelling if they know you’re not just going to ask for more money. This is where receipts can really influence donor retention! Your donor saw you, fell in love with your mission, and supported your work. They gave because they wanted to make a difference. They want to know it worked! Update your donors! They’ll be more likely to support you again in the future if they know you’re using their money wisely.

A Great Donation Receipt is Definitely Still a Receipt

Donation Receipt Information

So far, the body of this receipt has been as much a thank-you note as it’s been anything else. But it’s still a donation receipt, so including donation information is important. Here, the transaction details are prefaced by another thank-you. It includes the basics, mostly the date, amount, card type, and personal information. If your donor supported a specific restriction or program, that information can be recorded here, too.

Donation Receipt Legalese

Oh look, another thank-you! This is a section that’s important for donors who will use these receipts during tax season. Including basic information about the org’s tax-exempt status and explaining whether or not goods were exchanged is important.

A Quick Test Before Sending Your Donation Receipt

Ahean Audit

Have you ever heard of the Ahern Audit? It’s a method of looking at your communications with your donors to see where the focus is. A good rule of thumb is that phrases like “you,” “your,” and phrases that refer to the donor and the organization together should outnumber references to your organization alone. In this email, we focused on donor-centric language, which is highlighted in red. Organization-centric language is highlighted in blue. This one passes the audit!

Donation receipts tend to be boring, standard summaries of a donor’s gift. But they don’t have to be! Just a little effort can turn your boring receipt into an engaging, inspiring message that keeps donors connected with your organization.

Want to learn more about Qgiv’s donation receipts? If you’re a Qgiv client, check our Help Desk for articles on how to build a great receipt. If you’re not a Qgiv client, we’d love to show you our receipting tools! You can contact us online or call us at 888-855-9595.



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