Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What does your gift receipt say about your organization?

As I ran a ton of errands this weekend, one of my stops was my local Walgreens for a few miscellaneous items. As I left the store purchases nestled snugly in my granny cart (don't judge 4 flights of stairs is NYC is no joke) the clerk handed me a small novela of receipts. There was one that was just an ad for something, I purchased, one was a coupon hoping I'd buy another item and then the register receipt that was the length of my body. Good grief! As I pondered the waste, thinking about how I hated paper and only kept receipts when the IRS tells me I have to, I thought about our receipts that we send as organizations an what they say about us. As noted here in a previous blog post receipts and acknowledgment letters are NOT the same thing.

Have you looked at your receipt lately? Is it easy to read, colorful, does it share your mission and have a  message of gratitude? Are you wasting the back of it with empty space?

Remember the tax receipt is one of the only items of print a donor will ever keep. What kind of lasting impression will you have with them? When they look at it during tax time will they smile or frown?


Here is an example of a receipt I designed when I was at NYU Poly.  Note it has a message of gratitude, clear tax information and on the back is the Donor Bill of Rights. Something to remind donors we have their best interests at heart at all times.

A well done receipt doesn't have to be overly complicated, but it does have to be clear, direct and responsible. Receipts don't need to overwhelm with information. Keep it simple.

Also, please don't forget a receipt's purpose. It is a tax document and a quick way to let the donor know we have received their gift. It should leave your office within 24-48 hours of the receipt of the gift; no exceptions. Also, please don't include a BRE or another ask in with the receipt, that's tacky. Give your donors room to breathe before your resolicit them, you may even want to thank them too!

Also, don't forget to receipt responsibly. If someone has set up a reoccurring or monthly gift (don't have a monthly giving program yet? You SHOULD)  don't send them a receipt every time. One at the end of the calendar year is sufficient. Also give them the option to receive their receipts digitally should they like to.  

So this spurs me to action. We need more receipt samples from across the world. Please send me a redacted or blank receipt and I'll share them with everyone on the website. I found some samples here but we need more! Add yours to the collection and help serve as a resource for others.

I would love to hear your thoughts.


FREE Live Chat- April 16th

NEXT Webinar:
April 4, 2013:  While donor walls will always have their place of any non-profit organization, they are not without their challenges. Space limitations, difficulty and expense of annual updates, inability to communicate timely messages and more importantly - a general failure to attract and impress new donors - is creating a revolution in current donor recognition design. Organizations are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to provide quality donor recognition to their supporters. The convergence of interactive technology with multimedia content has created a wealth of new recognition possibilities. Many are now utilizing both interactive and standalone multimedia presentations to enhance their donor walls and recognition displays with content that is limited only by the imagination. In this case study we will examine the process, explore the possibilities, and enhance the vision of the future of donor recognition together!
Yearly Option, $200 for 12 webinars, Send me an email to be invoiced:


  1. Lynne, do you send receipts separate from thank you letters? For online donors, do you recommend sending separate e-receipts and e-thank yous?

  2. Absolutely Ashley. As I reference above, I did an entire blog on the fact that they are separate. Click the link up there for details! ;)

  3. Great blog, Lynne. I do have to say that some of my recurring donors did want a receipt as they "needed" verification their gift actually was received. When I was doing an annual giving program, I would include a student or campus story on a simple insert in the donor's envelope, never a BRE.

  4. Thanks for sharing! I tried to click on the "here" link to see the samples, but the link says the page cannot be displayed! :-(