Fiscal Years in DONATION
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All data entry for DONATION is done on a calendar year basis, i.e. you are working on one year at a time, and donations you enter must be dated between January 1 and December 31 of that year.
The reason for this is that the vast majority of the users of DONATION are in Canada and the U.S.A., and in both countries, you claim your charitable donations for your taxes on a calendar year basis. So, if the users of the program choose to create only year-end receipts, they will include all donations during one calendar year, which can all then be claimed in one year's tax deductions.
The majority of the reports in DONATION are also on a calendar-year basis, to match the receipting year.
However, for organizations whose fiscal year is different from the calendar year, there may be a need for some reporting that covers exactly the fiscal year. Starting in version 3.42, this can be done. Before using any fiscal year options, you must set up what your fiscal year start date is in the Maintenance à Organization Info window.
You can then use the Reports à Fiscal Year sub-menu options, and new radio buttons for fiscal year selection in the Reports à Custom Reports window. You can also optionally set up to have your pledges be considered to be for the fiscal year.
What is considered to be the current fiscal year?
All fiscal year reports (including Custom Reports) include the donations for the entire current fiscal year. If you are working on a specific calendar year in DONATION, say 2012, the fiscal year used for reporting is always "fiscal 2012". What this means is if for instance your fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31, the "fiscal 2012" that gets reported on is June 1, 2011, to May 31, 2012.
This is true regardless of when during 2012 you run those fiscal year reports, i.e. whether the current date is before or after June 1, 2012.
If you are still working on 2012, and it is after your fiscal year end, and you wish to see a report for the new fiscal year (fiscal 2013), just use one of the many built-in non-fiscal year reports that prompt for a range of dates, and specify a range from your fiscal year start to December 31 (or to the current date, if you prefer). Examples of such reports are those on the Reports à Donor à Donation Info sub-menu and the Reports à Donation à All Donations sub-menu.
What you cannot do on a fiscal year basis
Because the demand for fiscal year-based features has been very small, some other aspects of the program that could potentially also be enabled on a fiscal year basis have not been changed. In most cases, this is in order to keep the complications of the program down, for the vast majority of users who do not care about fiscal year features.
The main thing that could potentially be done on a fiscal year basis but has not been changed is the selection of ranges of donation dates to include for mail-merge letters.
What if my receipting year is not the calendar year?
Some countries other than Canada and the U.S.A. have receipting years for tax purposes that are different from the calendar year. In particular I am aware that this is true in England and Australia. They might for instance include on their taxes all donations made between April 1 of one year and March 31 of another year.
DONATION has no special features for that situation, and currently there is no plan to change this, because it would be an enormous complication for the program, for the small fraction of users who are from those other countries.
Having said this, it is fairly easy to work around this problem for users in such countries. Suppose the receipting year is April 1 to March 31, as mentioned above.
At the end of the first part of the program's calendar year (January 1 to March 31), make sure you have entered all donations for that period, and have not yet entered any donations for any later dates. Then create a batch of receipts for all donors (for instance using the Receipt à All Donors menu option), and send them out to the donors.
Then you can continue entering the rest of the year's donations, and once all donations to the end of December have been entered, create and send out another batch of receipts, which will include only the donations from April 1 to December 31. (That is because the earlier donations were already included in the previous batch of receipts, and donations are never included in a new receipt when they have already been included on a previous one.)
The donors will then use the year-end receipt from one year, and the end of March receipt from the next year, on the taxes they file in that next year.