Giving receipts for donations to a homeschool group

Do we need to offer a written letter or some sort of receipt for donations to our organization?
If we are hosting a parent event and door prizes have been donated, how is that handled?
Do we need for the donor to give us a receipt or some sort of written statement stating the value of an item that has been donated?
Is there a particular format or template for receipts given to donors?
Thanks so much!

Yes, you should give a receipt for donations. The IRS Publication 4221-PC p. 26 explains it all. Be sure to include a note about “No goods or services were given in exchange for this donation.”The value of donated goods is determined by the donor, not your organization as the charity. You can give a thank you letter to the donor and fill in a description of the item donated, but not its value.

Sort of like Goodwill does when you drop off stuff. They have a stack of cards at the drop off counter. Goodwill fills in the date, but the value of the donation is filled in by the donor.
No, there are no official donation receipt forms.
Just follow the example of Goodwill or your church.
Carol Topp, CPA

Can a homeschool group give discounts to a family in need?

Our homeschool group is a 501c3 organization. A parent member of our group recently approached me and asked if we could start a scholarship program. (This would not be a college scholarship program.) The parent’s hope is that a parent (or any individual) could give a donation to the organization to be used for scholarships for families who were facing financial hardship to attend our classes.
The scholarship would only be used to reduce a needy family’s tuition at our co-op. The parent that asked this question was hoping to get a tax deduction for his gift. I know that there could potentially be an issue with private inurement* for the families receiving a “scholarship” in this situation.
I would greatly appreciate your input. I am happy to schedule a phone consult with you.
Sharon in PA
What your member is proposing is a type of benevolent fund.
I don’t like the use of the word “scholarship” because, to the IRS, “scholarship” means payments on behalf of a student to a college.
I wrote a blog post about it:
Granting a tuition discount to a needy family is not inurement* if you put into practice a few safeguards such as:

  • the board, or a committee decides on the criteria to grant a tuition discount for a hardship (consider creating a policy)
  • the family receiving the benevolent discount has no vote or decision in granting the discount
  • the donation is not “ear marked” for a specific family. The board gets to decide who gets a benevolent discount, not the donor.

*Inurement is when the earnings of the organization are used for the advantage of a specific individual instead of the purpose of the organization. Inurement is forbidden for 501(c)(3) organizations.

I hope that helps,

Carol Topp, CPA

Got donations? Confirming contributions in a homeschool organization

donation_money_insert_400_clr_5537Is your homeschool group fortunate to have received a donation this year?

It’s important you you to know what your organization needs to do confirming contributions.

Only if your homeschool organization is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, can your donor deduct the donation on their tax return.

If your group does not have 501(c)(3) status, you should thank the donor, but not give them a tax deductible receipt.

(Not sure if your group is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization? Read more here…)


Here’s some advice from a fellow CPA, Dennis Walsh on confirming contributions.



Confirm contributions

A prompt thank you letter that includes what donors need for tax purposes is an effective way to keep your contributors up to date on the great work you’re doing.  The IRS says it’s okay to send this information by email. When different financial duties are assigned to a variety of people, the chances increase that any misappropriated donations will be detected more readily.

Here’s a sample of the essential information to include in your thank you letter:


“Name and address of nonprofit
“Donor name and address

“We wish to thank you for your 20xx contribution of cash in the amount of $500.00.  We did not provide any goods or services in exchange for this contribution. XYZ Nonprofit is an organization exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and contributions are deductible to the extent allowed by law.”

Remember to separately list any single contribution of $250 or more.  If the donation is other than cash, describe the property but do not indicate a value.

If you provided the donor with goods or services as part of the contribution, you could delete the second sentence in the above example and substitute the following:

“We provided you with two theater tickets with a fair market value of $50. Your tax deduction is limited to the amount of cash and value of any property contributed, reduced by the value of any goods or services received in return.  Accordingly, the amount eligible for a federal income tax deduction is $450.”

There are exceptions for items of minimal value such as pens and mugs.  See the discussion regarding “quid pro quo” donations in IRS Publication 1771.

Dennis Walsh, a certified public accountant who lives in Jamestown, North Carolina, is the author of Legal and Tax Issues for North Carolina Nonprofits. Through the Deborah and Dennis Walsh Foundation, he provides volunteer technical assistance to help empower community nonprofits. He can be reached at drwalsh at

Can you fund raise or accept donations as a homeschooling family?


If I am going to homeschool my own children and am not part of an organization, is there a way to fund raise or receive donations for homeschooling and keep it separate from our home income? Do we need to still claim it as part of a household income if we are using it for school purposes? Are there any tax deductions or credits for homeschooling?

Jena F in AZ



I’ve been asked before about fundraising to a family to help with homeschool expenses. Here’s a blog post on the subject:

You may fund raise, but the the income is considered earned income from a business and the profit is fully taxable.

You can accept gifts from generous people, but they will not be tax deductible donations to the donor because your family is not a qualified charitable organization.

There are no federal tax deductions for homeschool expenses, but some states, such as Indiana allow educational deductions to all parents, public, private school and homeschool.
Here’s another blog post on that subject:

AZ does have some tax credits for education, but they are for donations to a school, not for individual expenses. Read more here:

I hope that helps,
Carol Topp, CPA