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Auto Donations to Car Charities

Updated on October 26, 2012

donate auto to charity

Ever heard of car charities? The term is a little misleading, isn’t it? Car charities sound like foundations for abused automobiles. Actually, the auto donations go to help living organisms, like human beings, for example. Cars for charity might also benefit animals and the environment. Donating a car to charity isn’t a brand new idea, but it has really caught on in the past few years. I honestly think one reason for this is the depressed U.S. economy. I know several people who have tried to sell their used cars in the past few months, but they rarely had any takers. Some of these would-be sellers even dropped the prices on their autos to well below market value, yet sales were rare. The vehicles remain sitting in back yards, gathering rust and dust and not helping anyone. Wouldn’t it be better to donate your car to charity? With vehicle donation, the car will be put to good use, it will be out of your way, and you’ll get a healthy car donation tax write off. Does this sound good to you? If it does, read on about auto donations!

Donating a car to charity can be a great idea.
Donating a car to charity can be a great idea.

Organizations that accept car donations

You’ll find numerous car charities at the state and national level, and you might also find some at the local level, depending on where you live. You might be surprised at the number of variety of choices you’ll have when you decide to donate a car to charity. Below, I list some of the most popular, by category. These, however, are not the only charities that accept vehicle donation. The list is just to give you an idea of what’s available. It’s also important to note that some of the car charities listed are specific to certain areas.

Children’s charities – Youth Mentoring Connection, Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs, D.A.R.E., Caring for Our Children Foundation, Operation TeddyCare, Agape Villages, Our Lady of Divine Grace Children’s Foundation, United Children’s Fund, , The Home for Little Wanderers, Trinity Children’s Foundation of America, Ronald McDonald House, Kiwanis Family House, Boy Scouts of America, Children’s Miracle Network, Big Brothers and Big Sisters

Charities for the homeless – Committee on the Shelterless, The Living Room, Imperial Services Corp, Weingart Center Association, Rebuilding Together, Barrett Foundation, Kalimna Ministries, Vision House, Hearts of Fire Project, Family Emergency Shelter Coalition

Help for veterans – Veterans Lodging, Veterans for Peace, Mountain States Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Families Veteran Global Transitions, New England Paralyzed Veterans of America, Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America, Soldiers Angels, Aid Our Veterans

Diseases and conditions – American Lung Association, Parkinsons Disease Foundation, American Diabetes Foundation, Breast Cancer Society Inc, Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation, Cancer Support Services, American Association for Cancer Support, Handicapped Help Line, American Council of the Blind, Polakoff Foundation, National Psoriasis Foundation, Easter Seals, American Melanoma Foundation, National Cancer Alliance, Shyning Charitable Fund, Parkinsons Institute, Autism Society of America, Seguin Services, Arthritis Trust of America, Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation, Inland AIDS Project, Kiona Foundation, Amyloidosis Foundation, Lupus Foundation of America, Kidney Foundation, United Breast Cancer Foundation, Lymphoma Foundation of America, America’s Baby Cancer Foundation, Mental Health America, Defeat Diabetes Foundation Inc, American Childhood Cancer Organization, Alzheimers Association, Cancer Research Institute

Global charities – Develop Africa, African Way Foundation Inc, Children’s Rescue Outreach International, Food for Life Global, Global Outreach Distribution, India Relief and Education Fund, African Aid Organization, Global Visionaries, Christian Freedom International

Animals and pets – Compassion Over Killing, North American Bluebird Society, Defending Our Wildlife, Dog Squad Rescue, Lemur Conservation Foundation, Angles with Paws, AnimaLovers, Cars Helping Pets, Honor Sanctuary Animal Rescue, Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, Animal Rescue Force, International Bird Rescue Research Center, Animal Protection Foundation, Adopt-a-Dog Inc, Animal Friends Rescue Project, Wildlife Care Association

General – Goodwill Industries, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, United Way

Types of vehicle donations to charity

Virtually all car charities accept cars and pickup trucks, and many other organizations accept other types of vehicle donation, as well. Depending on the individual organization, this might include boats, motorcycles, golf carts, RVs, trailers, airplanes, heavy equipment, work vans, and/or yachts. Each charity has its own set of guidelines. Some car charities require that the vehicle be in operational condition. Some accept vehicles that aren’t running, as long as all the parts are intact.

How vehicle donation works

Before donating a car to charity, you’ll need a clear title on the vehicle. Basically, there are two ways in which you can donate your car to charity. One is to give the car directly to the organization, and another is to use an organization that serves as a “middle man.” Using the “middle man” services might make donating a car a little easier on you, but it usually leaves less money for the charity. A delivery service will usually pick up the car for you and perhaps help with the required paperwork. On the other hand, a towing company might come to pick up the vehicle. The down side of this is that the service gets part of your car donation for its fee, and sometimes these can be very expensive. It’s not at all unusual for such a service to receive half the sale price of the car, and some charge even more – as much as 90%.

If you can deliver the donate automobile yourself directly to the charity, all the proceeds from the sale of the vehicle will benefit the charity. Sure, this is a little more trouble for you, but in the long run, you might feel that it’s worth the time and trouble.

Occasionally, cars to charity are kept by an organization for its use. Most of the time, however, the car donations are auctioned off, and the money that’s paid for the vehicle goes to the charity. Some car charities sell vehicles at low prices to the needy. There are also some car charities that pay donators a partial amount of what the car is worth or what the car brings at auction, and the remaining amount goes to the charity.

Car donation tax write off

So many people have used the car donation tax write off in the past five or six years that the Internal Revenue Service has gotten pretty strict in this area. To stay on Uncle Sam’s good side, make sure you take the necessary steps that will ensure your car donation tax write off is accepted by the IRS. One thing you’ll need to do before donating cars is to pay close attention to the car charities in which you’re interested. Your vehicle donation has to be to 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit organization. Just because a vehicle donation group claims to be non-profit isn’t enough. It has to have 510 (c) (3) status.

The laws have changed about how much value you can assign a car used as a vehicle donation. In most cases, you’ll have to wait until the car sells, and the charity will send you a receipt that includes how much the vehicle brought. The purchase price is the amount you can use as a car donation tax write off. If the vehicle is worth less than $500, this rule doesn’t apply. There are some other cases when you can use the fair market value of the car donation – if the vehicle is purchased by a low-income buyer at a reduced price, or if the charity that received the vehicle from a donor makes repairs or other improvements before selling it. If the charity opts to keep the car and use it in its operations, instead of selling it, you can claim the fair market value. To find the fair market value of your vehicle donation, use the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) guide or the Kelley Blue Book. Both of these organizations have websites to help guide you through the evaluation process.

When you donate a car to charity, sign the title over to the charity. If that space on the title isn’t filled in, the car still legally belongs to you. That means that even if the car is sold at auction, the vehicle’s ownership and responsibility are still attached to you, and this could cause all sorts of problems down the road.

Benefits of donating a car to charity

It’s easy to donate a car to charity. Most of the work and arrangements can be done online and on the telephone. If a service has been designated to pick up or tow the vehicle, they usually do so quickly – often within 24 hours. A vehicle donation can be your best choice for an unwanted used car or other vehicle you might be having trouble getting rid of. Your car donation tax write off might very well be larger than what you’d get from a private sale. Also, you won’t have to spend time advertising the automobile and showing it to potential buyers. And if the vehicle is a clunker or an eyesore, donating it is a good way to get rid of it without having to pay a towing service. Besides, donating a car to charity can help do a lot of good!


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Holle, this is a wonderful idea putting up a list like that. I am sure it will help many people. Gosh how eople have to suffer and these bankers cold bloodedly taking millions of bonuses.

      Holle, it is hard for me to write this but I most properly have to say good bye to you. All my hubs get marked 'substandard'. I m really upset because I made so many and good friends here but I can't get any hub up any more. I emailed but all I get is a automatic reply.

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 

      8 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      This is a great resource. Thanks!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Thank you, Holle, for this up-to-date list of charities that accept car donations - a very useful list to have.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Nicely done. I've actually done this a couple of times and can confirm that it works. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wish us Canadians could get the tax deductions that Americans get....


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