Church Donation Receipt Template


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A church donation receipt is a written record of a charitable donation made to a church. It can exist in the form of an electronic or physical letter or a standard itemized receipt. Churches are 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, meaning donations to them are tax-deductible.

The IRS generally defines a “church” as an institution with a combination of the following qualities:

  • Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government;
  • Distinct legal existence;
  • Distinct religious history;
  • Established place(s) of worship;
  • Formal code of doctrine and discipline;
  • Literature of its own;
  • Membership not associated with any other church or denomination;
  • Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study;
  • Organization of ordained ministers;
  • Recognized creed and form of worship;
  • Regular congregations;
  • Regular religious services;
  • Schools for the preparation of its members; and
  • Sunday school for the religious instruction of the young.

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Average Church Donation

“Tithing” is the tradition of donating 10% of one’s annual income to a church. This percentage amount has biblical significance. Only 10-25% of church congregation members tithe consistently in the U.S (5.5% of all Americans). Any cash donations beyond the initial 10% are called “offerings.”

In 2020, religious organizations received 28% of all American charitable donations (for context, the next closest category is education at 15%). Christians generally give at an average rate of 2.5% of their income (for more context, this was 3.3% during the Great Depression).

  • 95% of Catholics financially support their parishes regularly at varying rates;
  • Protestants give an average of $17 per week to their churches; and
  • Methodists give an average of $44 per week.

Are Church Donations Tax Deductible?

According to the IRS, church donations are tax deductible if the donor obtains a proper donation receipt and if the church itself is officially tax-exempt. Donated noncash goods are usually deductible at their fair market values. If an individual contributes a noncash item worth more than $500, they will have to file an additional form, IRS Form 8283, that contains a signature from the church’s authorized representative.

For a church to be considered tax-exempt under IRC Section 501(c)(3), it must meet the following criteria:

  • The church can’t provide benefits to private interests;
  • The church has to be organized and operated exclusively for educational, charitable, religious, or scientific purposes;
  • The church’s activities can’t attempt to influence government legislation;
  • The church’s net earnings can’t benefit any private individual or shareholder;
  • The church’s purposes and actions can’t be illegal or violate fundamental public policy; and
  • The church can’t intervene in political campaigns by:
    • Making financial contributions to a candidate or political campaign;
    • Publicly favoring one candidate over others;
    • Acting in any way that has the effect of favoring a candidate or candidates; or
    • Publicly opposing candidates in any manner.

What Do Churches Use Donations For?

Churches can use donations for many purposes. The most frequent are:

  • Building costs for maintenance and updates;
  • Church-sponsored welfare programs;
  • General operating expenses;
  • Mission work and trips to spread the church’s message;
  • Special charity projects; and
  • Staffing and personnel.

Church Donation Receipt Policies

Churches can issue receipts on a gift-by-gift basis or as a single annual receipt itemizing all of a donor’s donations in a given tax year. If a gift is $250 or less, a bank record or simple statement from the church will suffice as the donation receipt. If the donation is more than $250, the church has to provide the donor with a full written acknowledgment of the gift.

Written acknowledgments need to include all of the following information:

  • Donation amount;
  • Donation date;
  • Name, address, and EIN of the church;
  • Name and address of the donor;
  • Specific details explaining the donation (method of payment for cash, physical description for noncash);
  • Statement of whether the church exchanged goods or services for the donation, and if they were, that the goods or services qualify as intangible religious benefits.

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