Can Walmart look up a lost receipt

Is it possible to donate anonymously to charities?

I know your pain so well I literally have a 14 gallon Rubbermaid container full of inquiries I've received.

Even worse, for-profit fundraising company send most of these mailings! They take the money and subtract their "expenses" which are rigged to use up almost all of your gift. Some companies got caught giving only 9% to the charity.

First, let's talk about a few topics.

Authentication . Is this outfit really a 501c3 tax deductible charity?

address . Is this their real address, or is it a scam's dropbox or one of those nasty, for-profit fundraising companies?

confirmation . For gifts over a certain size, you will need a thank you letter from them to show the IRS that you really made a donation. Will you get it The limit is $ 250 (no letter, discount declined), but in practice it helps to show as many donation letters as possible during an audit. Charities cannot retrospectively issue them but can issue you second copies of the ones they sent them previously. If the charity drops the ball, you lose.

Simple old money orders

Obviously, you go to the post office and spend $ 1 on a money order.

This authenticated they don't run as a charity. It doesn't guarantee that it's real to you Address goes . You can do both of these things yourself by checking your details on the IRS website or at

You don't get any confirmation .

Donor advised funds

I mention these because donation websites work similarly.DAFs require a higher one-time commitment, but are much easier and more efficient afterwards.

If you plan to give $ 5,000 in a single year, save it and open a Donor Advised Fund account. A DAF is self a charity. You donate to the DAF and take the charity tax deduction. You then instruct the DAF to donate it to other charities on your behalf or anonymously.

Their concept is that you can use the DAF as a "buffer" so that you can make the tax-deductible donation light can do, if You need this for tax purposes, and then at your leisure research organizations and support.

However, I asked my DAF - most people donate and donate the money back right away, so the fund goes to zero. My DAF doesn't mind that at all and doesn't charge any fees for it.

(The expenses are paid by those of us who leave the money lying around in the DAF. The mine charges 0.6% per year. This money can be invested like in a 401K, and each investment also has an expense ratio of 0.18%. . one year in my chosen index fund.)

  • With the DAF you can anonymous so that the charity sees the address of the DAF instead of your address.
  • The DAF staff confirm that the charity is real.
  • You just send the check to the official address the charity in Guidestar or IRS data.
  • The confirmation letter comes from the DAF itself. As you have an account, the system will always send you electronic copies of your confirmation letters.

Donation websites (Mini-DAF)

Sites like will take any amount of your money and donate it again to the charity you choose. They deduct 3-5% for their expenses (especially paper, stamps and 2-3% for processing your credit card).

  • Anonymity, authentication and address work like a DAF.
  • confirmation letter work just like a DAF. However, you don't need to "create an account" and if you don't, your Confirmation letter does not archived for you.


RE "pretty small" Maybe Mr. Harper is richer than me. :-) The IRS requires that you have a receipt or statement from the organization for any gift over $ 250. That's not the grand total for the year, it's a gift. So if you give your favorite charity $ 200 a month, you don't need a receipt, even though the grand total for the year is well over $ 250. I don't think $ 250 is "pretty small". Almost all of my charitable gifts are under $ 250.


@Jay I also see it off the charity's shoes. Due to other rules, our threshold for issuing the letters is $ 75, although in practice we accept gifts of all sizes. Someone giving us $ 200 a month must be sure to get a letter of confirmation by the end of the year and can even rate a mention on our 990! At review time, it's between the donor and the IRS, and it's about credibility. Letters help.


There is a threshold of $ 75 when you exchange something for the donation. For example, if someone who donates $ 100 receives a shopping bag or an annual subscription to your magazine or whatever, the deductible amount should be the amount they gave, minus the value of the "gift". In this case, if they give more than $ 75, you need to give them an explanation. Also, lots or charities will make declarations for any amount or threshold that is well below $ 250. However, the IRS regulations do not require it.


Ok i get your point And oh yes, the PBS shopping bag. Actually, swag brands and non-commercial magazines are considered "negligible" and not part of the gift financially, but the rules are Byzantine and I also don't want my donors to have to share this hair with IRS at the time of review. It sure is stupid that the charity won't write a letter for a $ 74 gift, and the donor is stupid not to show it on the exam. Most charities do so, so the complete lack of such a letter is a yellow flag upon examination. So I still claim that the IRS $ 250 rule is irrelevant in practice.