5 Best Car Donation Charities

Ready to donate an unwanted car but don’t know where to start? Many charities accept car donation. The tricky part is finding a legitimate charity eligible for the charitable donation deduction, has a mission you believe in, and uses its donations effectively.

Here are some well-known charities that are happy to accept car donations.

5 Best Car Donation Charities

1. Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity accepts donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, boats, snowmobiles, farm equipment and construction equipment. Vehicles are resold or recycled to support the charity’s mission to build safe and affordable homes for needy families.

Regulator CharityWatch has rated Habitat for Humanity International a B grade (A+ to F) for its financial practices.

CharityWatch said the organization spends 73% of its budget on projects. And spending an average of $27 relative to overhead to raise a $100 donation.

GuideStar, a research nonprofit, awarded Habitat the Gold Seal of Transparency in 2020.

To donate a car to Habitat for Humanity, you can use Car Donation Wizard’s website or call 877-277-4344 to provide your vehicle information and schedule a pickup time.

2. Ronald McDonald House Charities

Your local Ronald McDonald House Charity (RMHC) chapter can accept donations of cars, trucks, boats, RVs and other vehicles.

The group sells cars and uses the proceeds to help provide families with a home away from home while seriously ill or injured children are hospitalized.

CharityWatch rated RMHC’s country office an A. The watchdog said the group spends 88 percent of its budget on projects, not overhead, and spends $9 to raise every $100 in donations.

To donate a vehicle to RMHC, call 855-227-7435 or visit the organization’s car donation website.

Charitable Adult Rides & Services (CARS), a non-profit organization that partners with RMHC for vehicle donations, will pick up your vehicle for free and send you the documents you need to request a charitable donation.

3. The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army accepts vehicle donations at certain locations. The organization sells donated vehicles to fund various programs, including disaster relief, homeless shelters, food pantries, veteran’s services, job training, and more.

The Salvation Army consists of four regions: Central, Eastern, Southern and Western. CharityWatch rated all products a B+ or better.

The Salvation Army webpage can help you find a vehicle donation service near you.

4. Goodwill

You cannot return your car at any Goodwill Donation Centre, but the charity does accept donations of cars, RVs, boats, motorcycles and many other speciality vehicles.

Goodwill sells all donated cars and uses the proceeds to support its career services.

CharityWatch rated Goodwill Industries International an A, and the organization says it spends 87 percent of its budget on projects, raising $100 in donations for as little as $2 relative to overhead.

To get started, fill out the car donation form at GoodwillCarDonation.org or call 855-980-0171. The organization will arrange for a vehicle pickup and send you a receipt.

5. Canine Companions for Independence

Canine Companions for Independence provides service dogs for adults, children with disabilities, veterans and facility dogs for professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice, and education.

CharityWatch rated Canine Companions a B, saying it spends 68% of its budget on projects, and every $100 in donations will spend $20 on fundraising.

The organization accepts donations of cars, trucks, boats, planes, motorcycles and other vehicles, whether operating or not.

You can start donating online or by calling 866-398-4483.

Claiming a Tax Deduction for Car Donations

Before car donation to charity, it’s a good idea to read the IRS’s Guide to Charitable. Giving to ensure you’re eligible for the deductions you wish to claim. The following tips can help:

Plan itemized deductions:

It would be best to itemize the deductions to get tax benefits from donating a vehicle. Your total itemized deductions—including out-of-pocket medical expenses, home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable deductions—need to be greater than the standard deduction available for your filing status.

This is a tough hurdle for many taxpayers, so you may want to work with your tax advisor to crunch some numbers before donating to see if itemizing is worth it.

Put the right paperwork together

The IRS has strict rules about recording vehicle donations, so you’ll need to get the correct documentation to file for a write-off.

Most charities sell donated vehicles, and your deduction is limited to the proceeds from the sale.

After the charity has sold the car, it should send you a Form 1098-C confirming the date and price of the sale. For more details, review IRS Publication 4303, Donor Guide for Vehicle Donations.

Bottom Line

You may not get tax benefits from donating a vehicle you don’t need. But the charity that accepts the car will surely appreciate it. After all, even an old car that’s not running can be sold as scrap.

If you plan to claim a tax deduction, research the charity you plan to donate a car to and have your paperwork ready. Then donating your car will be a win-win for you and the charity.

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