Are churches legally obligated to provide contributions statements or donor receipts every year?
The quick and easy answer is no.
There is no obligation on the church or ministry to provide a statement of giving to donors who have made a donation to the church in the previous year. There is no deadline to provide it and there are no penalties if a letter is not provided.
Many churches are still operating under the assumption that to maintain their not for profit status, something has to be provided, but that is not the case.
For many, this goes back to a situation very similar to those statements and phrases that people mistakenly think are actually scripture. Those things that sound good enough to be biblical but have actually just evolved over tradition.
That is the case here. The IRS has made it very clear in their guidelines for contributions that the organization is not responsible to provide any documentation of the gifts. In fact, they go on to say that it is the donor’s responsibility to request a statement if they want to itemize those donations on their tax return.
Now, let’s get into the practical fact of the matter.
It’s always a good idea to provide a contribution letter to your donors. Most churches, if not all, are completely reliant on the faithfulness of their givers to pay the bills and keep the power on. Without faithful givers, ministry doesn’t happen.
Giving is already hard enough in church and most churches struggle when it comes to cash flow. A sincere thankfulness for their generosity starts with a contribution letter.
What does that do?
A contribution letter is an opportunity for you to speak to your church. You have an open door to thank them for their generosity, but also share how those donations impacted the ministry of your church. Let them know how many people were saved in the previous time period, how many baptisms and the other tangible things the ministry was able to do only because the donor was faithful and generous. As always, a simple thank you can go a long way.
We have many more articles around the site speaking to encouraging generosity so you can look around for those but for now, just know, that your church is NOT required to provide a donation letter, but it’s still probably a good idea to do anyways.