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Car and Vehicle Donations

Potential Revenues:


Revenue Source:

40-87% of the vehicle recovery amount


Social media, eNewsletter articles, news articles on your site, press releases to local newspapers and radio stations, blogs, your non-profit’s homepage, in your email signature, all communications




See list in Ideas to Consider

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How It Works:

This is an easy, instant, and typically fully-managed turnkey program to help any charity, church or school supplement their fundraising income.  The usual relationship is that the broker acts as an agent for the charity.  Below are typical advantages to the non-profit:

  • No liability, costs, staff time, contracts or risks
  • 40-87% of the vehicle’s recovery amount is paid to your organization, based on the service you use
  • There are usually no fundraising costs except those you incur for marketing and advertising
  • There are usually reports available showing sales, costs, donor information
  • Instant start-up of the program once you register
For the donor of the vehicle, this will be a tax-deduction, if your organization is so designated by the IRS.  If you’re a 501(c)(3), then you’ve met the test.  Some organizations, like private schools, do not have this designation, and thus the car donation will not be tax-deductible.  IRS publications 4302 and 4303 cover these requirements pretty well if you or the donor has questions.  Assuming the donor is in the 33% tax bracket, about a third of the car’s market value will show up as a tax credit, so a donated vehicle with a value of $2400 will yield about an $800 tax credit.

Interestingly, not all of these brokers take all vehicles.  Make sure you check their program rules before signing up, or hedge your bet by signing up with several.  Some programs will not take all vehicles, or have some special requirements like the car must be running.  Usually, the donated car needs to have four tires, an engine and a transmission.

Ideas to Consider:

Most of these programs have a low return because it’s hard to find a donor without some inside information from the family.  Oftentimes, the donations occur because they hear a radio or TV announcement run by either the charitable organization or the companies that run these programs for the charities.

You might want to consider creating a brochure about your program, and putting those brochures in the hands of nursing homes, car dealerships, car consignment lots, and similar places where a potentially donated car might show up.

Another way to put the odds in your favor is to list your group with multiple for-profit and non-profit companies that provide this service.  Below are nine with which to start.










Source of Idea: Unknown.  All of the above have been in this business for some time now.

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