If you run a nonprofit, you probably solicit donations from individuals, groups and companies. The Internal Revenue Service requires that individual donors have a receipt for donations exceeding $20; a cancelled check does not count as a legitimate receipt. Companies and groups have similar IRS and internal record-keeping rules, and the IRS has similar rules for donated goods and services. Therefore, you must provide receipts for these tax-exempt donations.

Tax-Exempt Receipt Description

A tax-exempt receipt must confirm that the item or money given truly qualifies as tax deductible. Only organizations that receive tax exemption as a nonprofit or charitable institution under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code can provide these tax-exempt receipts. The IRS grants exemption from paying taxes to certain associations and organizations, but donations made to those organizations do not necessarily count as tax deductible. The IRS needs to know that your nonprofit is eligible to issue a tax-exempt receipt. You do this by furnishing the appropriate information to prove that a tax deduction is valid.

Organization Specifics

You can supply all the necessary information in a thank-you letter format using your nonprofit's letterhead. In the letterhead and at the beginning of the letter, clearly state your organization's name, location and contact information. Because smaller nonprofits often have names similar to for-profit organizations, the identifying information serves to clearly differentiate your nonprofit. In addition, if a donor needs to follow up in the future, she has the information to do so on the receipt. Your nonprofit's receipt for donations of physical items could also be a standardized form, for example, the form used by Goodwill.

Amount or Description

You must clearly specify the amount donated or provide a clear, detailed description of the item and its market value. If someone donated $500 over several months, you can either issue a receipt for each donation or send a thank-you letter with the total at the end of the tax year. If the donor donated goods of varying value, you can provide a blank description and value area for the donor to complete at the time of donation. If someone donates stocks or art, you must use the market value on the date of the donation. Art or private company stock requires an outside appraisal.

The Giver's Name

You must include the person's, group's or company's name on the receipt. This is how the IRS confirms that the individual or entity made the donation, in case there's an audit. If you use a letter form as your receipt, simply state the name in the "Dear" or "To" line. If the donor is a business, you can address the letter to an individual and state the business's name in the body of the thank-you letter. On a goods donation receipt, simply write in or have the individual write in the name of the person or business.