How to Donate Your Car to Charity

Navigating charitable vehicle donations

Do you have a car that’s not worth trading towards the purchase of a new car? Perhaps you have a vehicle that you rarely drive and is taking up space in your driveway and you’d just like it to go away without a hassle?

You could place a classified ad and try to sell it, but do you really have the time and patience for that? And don’t forgot the time wasted waiting on strangers to arrive for a test drive, not to mention the need to spruce up “Ole Betsy” with a wash and wax. Next thing you know, you’re breaking out the touch up paint and Armor All. At that rate, you might as well just hang on to the darn thing!

There’s a better option — donate that vehicle to charity! After all, charitable car donations are America’s favorite way of disposing of old vehicles. You’re helping a worthy cause while doing yourself a big favor by taking the hassle and expense out of disposing of your unwanted vehicle.

The steps to donating your vehicle to charity actually begin with a series of questions. From there it’s usually a very easy three-step process at least with the one offered by the Humane Society of the United States’ vehicle donation program. But first, onto those burning questions we know you have about how to donate your car to charity!

How to choose a vehicle donation charity

There are dozens of charitable organizations that accept vehicle donations. The first step of the vehicle donation process is deciding which charity is worthy of your donated vehicle. This would be the same question to answer if you were making a cash donation to the charity.

There are many online resources for evaluating reputable car donation charities and you can find out more about the Humane Society of the United States on our main website. At the very least, you want to make sure the charity is classified as a 501(c)(3) by the IRS. The HSUS has you well-covered on this score!

But there’s also a second part to the question that is unique to donated vehicles: How much of your vehicle’s sale value is ultimately delivered to the charity? Most people aren’t even aware that the second question is one they should even be asking, but it’s an important factor in your decision.

You might be surprised to learn that not all vehicle donation programs are created equal, especially when it comes to how much the charity actually receives to support its work. The HSUS receives on average 80% of the sale price, after paying for towing and auction fees. There is no middle-man, so the HSUS program returns a very efficient program that directs the vast amount of that gift towards our lifesaving work. Other programs, run by for-profit entities, return less than 10% to the promoted cause. It’s probably safe to assume you want to maximize the value of your donated vehicle taken in by the charity.

What kinds of vehicles can you donate to charity?

When it comes to vehicle donations, many people think it begins and ends with cars. You might be surprised to learn that the HSUS vehicle donation program accepts a large variety of vehicles. Below is a list of used vehicle donation types we accept:

  •         Cars (any make, model, year or condition)
  •         Trucks
  •         SUVs
  •         RVs
  •         Motorcycles
  •         Boats (power boats, sail boats and yachts)
  •         Personal watercraft (jet skis and Sea-Doos)
  •         Farm and commercial vehicles
  •         Snowmobiles and Ski-Doos

If you don’t see your vehicle listed, please get in touch and we may be able to accept your donation.

Donating a car that doesn’t run

A big reason people don’t bother with trading in an old car when purchasing a new one is because it doesn’t start, run or is simply too unreliable to offer to a dealer.

What isn’t well-known is that most car dealers do not resell most of the cars they accept on trade. Most are sold to scrap/salvage buyers or sent to auction. The payout dealers receive for salvaged cars generally exceeds the value of the trade-in. After all, that’s another way for dealers to turn a profit. If that’s the case with car dealers, then why not use the same method to benefit the charity of your choice?

The HSUS’s vehicle donation program, in many cases, will gladly accept your car — running or not. We then work with our processor to maximize the return from the salvage or resale price of your vehicle to fund our lifesaving work on behalf of animals in need.

What happens to donated cars?

In addition to selling cars past their useful life to salvage yards for a return on their value as scrap, the HSUS’s vehicle donation program has several tiers of vehicle disposal. We implement such as system in order to yield the highest return from your donation.

Certain vehicles can be sold or auctioned “as is” with no additional investment in terms of repairs or cosmetic enhancements. Other vehicles receive necessary mechanical and cosmetic work in order to maximize their selling price at auction. This all results on maximizing the value of your donated vehicle to the HSUS.

Can you donate a car without title?

You do not need a title in hand to begin the process. Just be aware that the sale may be delayed until the title has cleared. If this is your situation please make every effort to locate your title. You can begin with visiting your local DMV.

Can you take a tax deduction for donated vehicles?

As you’re probably aware, most anything to do with taxes can be complicated and the usual disclaimer to “seek the advice of a qualified tax preparer or financial advisor” certainly applies in the case of tax deductions for donated vehicles. The good news is you may be eligible to deduct your vehicle donation to charity. Just keep in mind a deduction for a donated vehicle only applies if you itemize deductions.

With recent changes to U.S. tax laws, things have changed with respect to deducting all types of charitable contributions and many more taxpayers are opting to take the standard deduction. If you itemize deductions, then the good news keeps rolling!

The HSUS’s vehicle donation program will provide you with the necessary forms and receipts to file with your tax return. Documentation will be delivered to you shortly after your vehicle is picked up. We finally come to the final steps in the vehicle donations process:

Three easy steps to donating your vehicle to the HSUS

If you’ve done the homework in the previous sections (wasn’t too hard, was it?) and decided to gift your vehicle to the Humane Society of the United, then let’s drive things across the finish line, regardless if your vehicle is running or not:

  1. Remove your license plates and all personal possessions from the vehicle. Answer a few questions and submit the short contact form on the homepage OR call the 800 number 1-833-227-7610 and we’ll assist you over the phone.
  2. You will be contacted by phone if you submitted the web form to schedule a pickup of your vehicle. You can arrange pickup at the time when calling the 800 number above. We do our best to accommodate your busy schedule.
  3. We tow your vehicle at absolutely no charge to you! We then mail forms and a receipt for claiming a tax refund to you, if you choose to itemize deductions.

What could be easier?

A final step we didn’t mention and is perhaps the most important of all: Your generous donation goes a long way to ending cruelty and suffering of animals across the nation and the world. For that, we thank you!

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