Ensuring Your Donors Can Take Their Charitable Deductions Part I: Written Acknowledgment Rules

December 30, 2014Articles Nonprofit Roundup Blog

Often times, when an individual donor donates cash or property to a charity, the charity must take steps to document the donation. This documentation helps ensure that the donor can take his or her charitable deduction for the donation. Different documentation rules apply given the type of item donated (cash v. property), the amount of the donation and whether the donor received anything in exchange for the donation. Part I of this series will cover the written acknowledgment rules.

The written acknowledgement rules are the documentation rules that apply when a donor does not receive anything in exchange for his or her donation. The charts below are meant as a quick reference guide to help ensure your charity is complying with the written acknowledgement rules. Use Chart I for cash contributions and Chart II for contributions of property other than intellectual property and vehicles.

Chart I:

Contribution Amount (Cash)

Required Acknowledgment or Disclosure

Under $250

No written acknowledgment or disclosure is necessary.

$250 and up

To deduct the contribution, the donor will need to obtain a written acknowledgement that states: (1) the charity’s full legal name; (2) the date of the contribution; (3) the amount donated; and (4) the charity did not provide the donor with any goods or services in exchange for the contribution.


Chart II:

Contribution Amount (Most Property)

Required Acknowledgment or Disclosure

Under $250

No written acknowledgment or disclosure is necessary.

$250 to $500

To deduct the contribution, the donor will need to obtain a written acknowledgement that states: (1) the charity’s full legal name; (2) the date of the contribution; (3) the location of the contributed property, if real property; (4) a description of the property; and (5) the charity did not provide the donor with any goods or services in exchange for the contribution.

Over $500

To deduct the contribution, the donor will need to obtain a written acknowledgement that states: (1) the charity’s full legal name; (2) the date of the contribution; (3) the location of the contributed property, if real property; (4) a description of the property; and (5) the charity did not provide the donor with any goods or services in exchange for the contribution.Additionally, a donor must complete IRS Form 8283 for contributions over $500 and must obtain a qualified appraisal for donations over $5,000. The charity may be required to complete Part IV of IRS Form 8283 if the donor so requests.


Note, special disclosure rules apply when intellectual property or vehicles are contributed, or when a contribution of property is made by a corporation. Check back again for Part II of this series, which will cover the quid pro quo rules that should be followed when an individual donor receives goods or services in exchange for his or her donation.