The most important thing you must do when you receive a donation of any size is immediately thank your donor warmly and provide a donation receipt.
And it can’t be just any boring donation receipt.
Most nonprofits completely miss this opportunity to wow their donor, so it’s not that hard to stand out.
Let’s take a look at what an awesome donation receipt looks like so you can nail yours.
Your receipt/thank you has a job to do.
It needs to be warm, sincere, and prompt so that it closes the loop on the gift and makes the donor feel great about the experience.
We call it the Cycle of Giving and here’s how it works:
The donor gives a gift.
The nonprofit receives the gift.
The nonprofit sends the donor a receipt, thanking them for choosing to contribute to the cause.
This completes the cycle and sets the stage for your organization to receive another gift from the donor.
By the way, how you thank the donor depends on the way they gave.
When you receive a gift by check, you should print and mail a personalized letter of appreciation, that serves as the receipt.
When you receive an online gift, you should send the donor a receipt via email. This is probably automated through your donor management software, but it still needs to be warm and friendly.
The donation receipt can almost seem like a clerical task. But it’s not.
Given how important the donation receipt is in securing a future gift and inspiring the donor to tell others about your organization, crafting the perfect donation receipt is hardly a clerical task to check off your list.
It’s more like an art form, one that you can learn with practice and by understanding the real purpose of a donation receipt.
Think of your donation receipt as an ambassador for your nonprofit, thanking the donor for their support.
What makes a good ambassador?
- They are friendly.
- They are professional.
- They build trust.
- They are helpful.
Your donation receipt should be all these things: friendly, professional, engendering trust, helpful.
Instead donation receipts are often dull, jargony, full of default text, and off-brand. Many donation receipts do nothing to capture the heart of the organization and why its work matters.
I got a stiff, impersonal donation receipt recently and, as I looked at it, I just thought, “What the heck?”
By taking an ambassador approach to writing your donation receipts, you can make donors smile rather than shrug as they store the receipt in a folder for tax records.
You can inspire donors to want to give to your organization again and again.
Your online donation processor probably offers a generic receipt full of standard text.
The easy thing to do would be to use that since it’s already there.
But the problem is that it just isn’t good enough.
There are no words of appreciation in the generic receipt. There is no passion. There is no reason to give again. And there may not be anything that identifies your nonprofit as the sender.
Receiving this type of generic receipt leaves me cold. It makes me wonder if I gave my gift to the right organization.
I am not sure what’s worse with this one, the receipt number in the subject line, the “no-reply” email or the fact that the nonprofit did not even bother to identify themselves in the email. What a huge missed opportunity to connect with the donor!
Now, here’s a really good donation receipt. It filled me with warmth and happiness when I received it.
It’s not hard to see the difference. The first one is cold and screams “tax receipt!” The second one exudes hope. It makes me want to give to this nonprofit all over again every time I look at it!
A well-written receipt is not just about a tax record. It’s about making the donor feel amazing.
You want your donor to think “I did that! I made that gift! I was part of this success story!”
A well-written receipt gives the donor a reason to feel great, which strengthens the relationship.
Here are a few more reasons why taking the time to write an effective donation receipt will pay off:
- First impressions are everything. When you send a prompt, well-written, moving, and informative receipt, you demonstrate to the donor that you are a well-organized organization that values professionalism. For first-time donors, you want to impress upon them that you value their gift and plan to put it to good use right away. By doing so, they have a higher likelihood of giving again.
- The donor knows you received their gift. In the donor’s mind, they can’t close the loop on the gift until they receive a receipt. But when they receive a receipt that is no different than the one they get when they purchase a box of cat treats, it makes their gift feel transactional rather than meaningful.
- You make it easier for the donor at tax time. Everyone wants their tax preparation to go smoothly. Providing a donation with the date, amount, organization name, and tax identification number clearly identifiable, you make the donor’s life easier.
As important as it is to create the right online donation receipt, it is an art form you can master through practice and following our formula.
These are the components of a flawless donation receipt. Let’s look at a few examples of donation receipts that put these components into action.