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How to Donate Your Car to Charity

Updated on April 15, 2012

I am the owner of a 1992 Plymouth Acclaim. The car isn't working as well as it once did and the truth is that there are times I wish that it was easier to simply trade the car in for something better. The car, however, is the only thing I have left of my maternal grandmother, and although the car isn't a classic, I would like to continue to work on it in order to keep it in running condition.

During the times that I have thought the most about getting a newer and better-running car, I have especially noticed the billboards that tell me to donate my used car. There seem to be so many charities these days who will accept car donations, including Good Will and Kidney Cars.

I didn't really understand the concept, so I thought that I would go ahead and do some research about car donations.

Why not think about donating that old car to charity instead of hauling it off to the junk yard?
Why not think about donating that old car to charity instead of hauling it off to the junk yard?
Your car donation goes to help others and you have the choice of where to donate your car. Why not make your own choices instead of using the Cash for Clunkers program?
Your car donation goes to help others and you have the choice of where to donate your car. Why not make your own choices instead of using the Cash for Clunkers program?

Why Should You Donate a Used Car?

Why should you donate your car? After all, the government is creating new incentives to use your old car to upgrade to a new one! A bill in the House of Representatives will allow you to cash in your used car for over $4000. Who wouldn't want to get in on that awesome deal?

I am not here to discuss politics, but I would like to point out that when you trade in your car through the government, your car isn't being donated: It is effectively being sold in order to allow you to upgrade your old car to a more eco-friendly car. The Cash for Clunkers program won't be going to help people who are in need -- Your car will only serve to help the government of the United States.

From my perspective, I enjoy knowing that I am doing something that is helpful to people. I want to be able to extend a hand and do what I can to help those who are in need, just as I have been in need myself. I can identify with folks who require the services of charities such as Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity, and there are many other great charities out there as well, all of which need your help.

Your car donation could go a long way to helping someone to find a job, or to putting a family into stable housing. It might help to get deaf or blind children an education, or help to provide medical care for those who can't afford it. By donating your car, you are doing something to make the world a better place. Donating your car serves others, while the Cash for Clunkers program serves the government, and to an extent, yourself.

If you donate your car, you are taking a step to help those who are in need and in so doing, to personally making the world a better place! It's worth it!

Goodwill is just one charity that will accept a donation of a used car.
Goodwill is just one charity that will accept a donation of a used car.

Choosing a Charity to which to Donate a Used Car

In my research I discovered that there are several charities that allow you to donate your used vehicle in order to help to support their cause. I have already mentioned Goodwill, which sometimes accepts working cars as part of their Wheels to Work program, but there are many other charities available for you to choose from, some of which will tow your car for free.

If you are willing to pay towing fees for your car, the best thing that you can do is to choose a charity that you believe in. I have some personal favorites and in my case, should my family choose to (gasp!) donate our car rather than restoring it, I would choose to donate to Habitat for Humanity.

Choose a cause that is important to you, and find out if your charity accepts car donations. I have provided a list of possible suggestions at the end of this hub. You can choose from those or find one of your own!

One Family's Donated Car

The process required to donate your car is fairly simple: most sites even have an online form!
The process required to donate your car is fairly simple: most sites even have an online form!

How to Donate a Used Car

In most cases, donating your car is fairly simple: Find the charity of your choice and make contact with them. In many cases, the charity will come and pick your car up for you free of charge (making donating your car very convenient!). Most charities also appear to have a page where you can fill in your information to have your car donated without even having to pick up the phone!

Will I get a Tax Deduction if I Donate a Used Car?

Every site I viewed told me that you may get a tax deduction. It appears that one must be eligible. What I have also discovered is that you are no longer permitted on your taxes to estimate the value of the car above a certain amount, meaning that your deduction will not be based on the value of the car that you have donated. You will need to decide whether or not it is worth it for you to donate your car in order to receive the apparent tax benefits of doing so.

You may receive a tax deduction if you donate a used car!
You may receive a tax deduction if you donate a used car!

Why Give at All? Why be Charitable?

There are many organizations that are saving or changing lives that rely heavily on donations from the private sector. While some charities do receive government funds, it is largely up to the private citizens of a country to support those causes in which they believe. Giving to a charity allows you the freedom of choice to decide where you want your money to go (and you will usually get a tax deduction, too!). Furthermore, charitable giving can truly change your own life for the better.

Do a bit of research about charities. I have included a list of several that take car donations at the end of this hub. I'm sure that everyone can find a cause that they care about!

Choosing where Your Donation Goes

How do I know if my Charity is Legit?

This is a very difficult part of donating to charity. Having worked in fund raising for some time I discovered that while most charities are legitimate and that the majority of the money that you put into them goes out to the cause that they are working hard to support. Conversely, however, there are charities that put most of their money back out into fund-raising and other administrative costs.

The most important thing that you will need to understand is that if you make a cash donation to a charity, some of your money is going to have to go into administrative costs, including payroll. A charity being "not for profit" doesn't mean that they don't have their own costs which must be covered. Research your charity and find out what percentage of their money goes into administration and how much goes to help the people to whom you are giving your money. This is important! In most cases the ratio should be about 80/20 with 20% going to administrative costs.

However, charities that are just getting started often have higher administrative costs!Why is this? Well, it is because newer charities have to do a good deal more advertising than charities which are already established. It is up to you whether or not you want to help a new charity to get off the ground of if you would prefer to donate to a more established charity.

This is another reason why you may wish to donate a car (or other items) rather than donating money. If the charity in question uses the car itself, then you know that your entire donation -- and not just a percentage of it -- goes to the cause you wish to support!

What is your experience? Did you donate a car?

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      A dying uncle who owed a lot of money chose to give his car (and other possessions) to charity before he passed rather than allow items of value to be sold after his death for pennies on the dollar. If his family had waited until after his death, it would have all just gone to debtors.

    • bettybarnesb profile image


      8 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Very useful hub. Just want to encourage you as I can tell that your life has added meaning. It is so wonderful when we learn to enjoy the "everyday" miracles of life. Would like to see you write more about that. This way as you encourage yourself, you also encourage others. Be Blessed.

    • jacobkuttyta profile image

      Siny J 

      8 years ago from Delhi, India

      nice article


    • profile image

      Automobile Donation 

      8 years ago

      Nice hub.

      One option I have seen is people selling the car, either privately or for scrap and give the money to a place of club that their loved one was involved with.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      this is inpressive i would say

    • MercuryNewsOnline profile image


      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      This is an inspiring article and your good intentions really flows from every paragraph.

      I used to work as a lay missionary in Asia and helped raise funds through sponsorship program for the education, books and food for the native children who have to walk for more than an hour from their mountain huts rain or shine to go to school.

      May your tribe increase.

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      wandererh, in some cases they use the car itself, and in others I believe that it is "junked" for cash. Donating the car is often more convenient than trying to sell it (and in some cases the deduction is more worth it than selling as well!) and that's why some people choose to do so.

      I didn't run into anything in any of Asia about donating cars though. Everything I hit was in the US and Canada. Could just be the language I'm searching in though :)

    • wandererh profile image

      David Lim 

      9 years ago from Singapore

      Haven't seen you around for a while and hope you are doing fine. I didn't know that you can donate a car to charity but it probably won't be available in Singapore anyway. But I do wonder what they do with the car? Won't it be easier to just ask for a cash donation?

    • lxxy profile image


      9 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Very good use of HubPages! ;)

      My car was donated to a tow yard because they thought I had ransome money to give them. They thought wrong.


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