Crafting the Perfect Prior Year Giving Statement
Updated: Jan 4
Have you ever made several donations to a nonprofit, then when it came time to do taxes, you couldn’t remember how much you gave?
Wouldn’t it be nice if the organization sent you a statement each January, listing all your gifts from the prior year?
This document is called the Prior Year Giving Statement and thoughtful nonprofits send them. They should include:
Nonprofit’s name and contact information
Donor’s name and address
A list of gift amounts and gift dates with a total amount
A list of gifts in kind (non-cash gifts) and their descriptions but not their values
A description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services, if any, that an organization provided in return for the contribution (such as a gala dinner worth $35)
A story that showcases the impact of the donor’s giving over the past year (not required, just a helpful touchpoint)
A statement that reads, “no goods or services were provided by [ORGANIZATION NAME] in return for the contribution” (assuming this statement is true)
Donors are required to have a written acknowledgement from the nonprofit anytime they make a single gift of $250 or more. The donors are ultimately responsible for obtaining the documentation, but it’s best when nonprofits make it easy.
PRO TIP: create these prior year statements for all your donors, regardless of how much or how little they gave, because it’s a wonderful way to serve your donors and stay in touch.
Here is a fantastic example of a Prior Year Giving Statement; download for free!
Here is a Prior Year Giving Statement template that you can customize for your organization; download for free!
Please note that there is no official “form” to fill out for the Prior Year Giving Statement; a letter from your organization is all that’s needed.
The letter may be postal mailed or e-mailed. It is a best practice to make sure these letters are postmarked or sent by January 31.
Your organization’s donor management software should be able to provide prior year giving information quickly and easily. You may even find a template within your software that automatically fills in the donor’s information for you, and all you have to do is personalize and send!
If you have questions about IRS requirements, you can go right to the source. Here is the IRS booklet called “Charitable Contributions: Substantiation and Disclosure Requirements.”
PRO TIP: You may wish to take it a step further and send a small gift that reflects your nonprofit along with the letter. This may include a magnet, car sticker, bookmark, tea bag, or anything that applies to your nonprofit. (These are considered token items and do not have to be listed as “goods or service provided in return for the contribution.”)