Year-End Receipting: What You Need to Know

In previous posts, we’ve talked about donor stewardship at a very high level. It’s time to dig deeper and get more specific. It's time to take a hard look at year-end receipting.

Donor stewardship doesn’t stop when a contribution is made. It continues right through the receipting process and beyond.

Given that we are well into the New Year, and your non-profit organizations may be dealing with an administrative bottleneck, I thought it would be helpful to talk about year-end receipting.

What are some of the challenges?

  • Actual donation date. Year-end is a complicated and busy time for any organization. Contributions sent in December but received in January can cause conflicts about the date of donation.
  • Receipt logistics. Sometimes, all year-end inbound donations need to be received and accounted for prior to receipt printing. Sending out receipts promptly can pose a challenge.
  • Donor-specific issues. Some donors may make contributions in exceptional ways, such as on a monthly schedule or in three separate and staggered payments. There may be different receipting or acknowledgment components issued to reflect those practices.
  • Incorrect information. Invalid donor contact info, missing copies of donation receipts for individual periods, data sorting to detect mistakes, or failure to issue previous receipts can all complicate the year-end receipting process.
  • Cost. In-house systems for issuing receipts may be expensive and difficult to maintain or upgrade.

Year-end receipts can certainly seem daunting, but understanding best practices will arm your donor stewardship team with the tools they need to make the process as painless as possible.

Establish Clear Timelines

Establishing a consistent, timely receipting practice is critical for both donor stewardship and cultivation purposes. The sooner receipts are issued, the sooner donors will be satisfied and the sooner potential mistakes can be identified and corrected.

Additionally, charities should make donors aware of their policies and rules regarding time frames for issuing receipts. For example, charities should not issue donation receipts for the previous year if a donor requests one, and when the contribution was received after January first. A donation receipt can only reflect a particular date if the donation was received during that period.

Ensure Quality Data

Errors in databases containing donor information can be costly and embarrassing. In particular, incorrect contact information or duplicate files can irritate donors and undo any established sense of goodwill. Charities must ensure data is compiled accurately and they should periodically cross-check to be certain that mistakes that may complicate the year-end process are resolved beforehand.

Keep Your Head in the Cloud

In-house receipting systems can incur high support costs, and won’t necessarily integrate seamlessly with your other operations the way a Cloud-based solution can. Taking advantages of existing software services to help support your stewardship efforts offers flexibility and reliability without having to worry about maintaining expensive infrastructure.

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