Getting Rid Of Your Car? Try Donating It Instead

Donating Your Car
Photo: Steve Harvey on Unsplash

If it’s time to clear out the garage, try donating your car instead of selling it.

That’s right—you can donate your car the same way you can pack up your old clothes and take them to women’s shelters, Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and more. Well, okay: there is a little more paperwork, but many charities work hard to make the car donation process as smooth as possible.

December is the season of giving, so if you have a car lying around, keep reading. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the car donation process.

Related: Don’t make this mistake: I bought my car from Costco Auto, but almost didn’t!

Why Donate?

  • It’s a car that won’t be worth selling or trading in.
  • You don’t have to make any repairs before turning it in for donation.
  • You need some extra space and want to get rid of your car quickly.
  • You can get a tax deduction.
  • You have a car you’ve inherited from a family member that you don’t need.
  • You’re helping out a charity and folks in need.

There are tons of reasons why you should donate anything, but it ultimately comes down to the fact that there are plenty of folks in need in this world. And if you’ve ever had a car, you know just what a benefit it can be, how it can give you a leg up on the people who aren’t as fortunate. And yes—you can even donate cars that don’t run!

Related: 7 Strange Noises That May Diagnose Car Problems – And When to See a Mechanic

Donating Your Car

Photo: Yüksel Göz on Unsplash

What’s the Donation Process Like?

The donation process is often very simple and can look something like this:

  • Fill out a donation form that includes your vehicle information and contact information. If there’s the option, this is also where you can select a specific charity or chapter of a charity.
  • Check the FAQ section of your desired charity if you have any questions.
  • Arrange for drop-off or pickup, depending on the state of your vehicle.
  • If the car is being scrapped, you don’t need insurance. If it’s being used or resold, you’ll need to make sure you have that all in order. If you’re donating an estate vehicle from a dead relative, you’ll need to have that paperwork in order.
  • Take your vehicle to the drop-off point, or wait for the charity to arrange a tow truck to take it for you.

If you’re looking for tax deductions as a result of your donation, arrange to be sent a tax slip after the charity has either resold, scrapped, or put your car to use. In the United States, there are some pretty complex rules regarding tax deductibility, so make sure to read up on all of them here and, if necessary, consult with a tax professional before making the donation.

In many cases, charities will take donations for just about any vehicles: trucks, RVs, boats, trailers, and more. Make sure you check out the ‘about’ section of your chosen charity to see what they’ll take.

Related: The 10 Best Gifts For Anyone Who Owns A Car

Donating Your Car

Photo: Nayani Teixeira on Unsplash

What Do Charities Do With Those Cars?

If your vehicle runs, the charity can use it for tons of different purposes, many of which depend on the goals of the charity. Those cars provide the mobility necessary to reach underserved communities, bringing them food, clothes, or other emergency supplies. Cars can be used for outreach events or for transporting people who don’t have a vehicle of their own. If you can imagine it, they can find a use for it.

Or, those charities can auction your car. This is a great option for charities that may not need the mobility but that could use the extra cash.

If your vehicle doesn’t run, many charities will still take your car. They’ll be able to part out the car and sell it for scrap, thus garnering money to use for other projects. So, if you have a machine in pretty poor condition, donation is an incredible way to wash your hands of a problem car.

My brother had an old Jeep that just totally quit running and would have cost more to fix than the car was worth. Instead of trying to fix the car up to sell and dealing with that headache, we donated it. Within a week, the Jeep was gone, and we learned that there were plenty of parts that could be resold or recycled.

Donating Your Car

Photo: Wallace Bentt on Unsplash

Where Do I Donate?

If you Google ‘car donation near me,’ you’ll likely have plenty of options to choose from. But, as a word of warning: make sure you do your research. Some well-known car donation charities have been accused of misuse of funds and misleading donors. Make sure you reach out to the organization you’re looking at to make sure they have a 501(c)(3) non-profit status with the IRS, and check out CharityWatch to see how effectively your chosen charity will use your donation.

To start your search, we’ve compiled a list of reputable charities that accept car donations in the United States:

  • The Salvation Army, which will accept any kind of vehicle you have. Sales from your car will benefit local adult rehabilitation centers and reunite families that have been broken up by substance abuse.
  • Wheels for Wishes, which donates cars and funds to local Make-a-Wish Foundation chapters in order to make the wishes of kids with life-threatening illnesses come true.
  • UNICEF USA, which helps children from underserved communities in anything from transportation to generating funds for safe birth kits.
  • Disabled American Veterans, which helps provide transportation assistance to veterans.

But there are tons of others out there that are both legitimate and can do wonders to help your local community.

If you live in Canada, things are a lot easier. Head to Donate a Car—it’s an all-in-one site for car donation that makes things incredibly easy.

Donating Your Car

Photo: Tom Garritty

I'm Elizabeth Blackstock, managing editor of AGGTC, blogger, journalist, novelist, editor, MA/MFA graduate student, wife, motorsport fanatic, and bearer... More about Elizabeth Blackstock