DONATING CAR to CHARITY: The Basics

Donor Image-01.pngIt's not uncommon to have a car you don't use. If you have children, perhaps you bought them a car they no longer need. Maybe you got a raise at work and celebrated by buying a new car, leaving your old one to collect dust in the driveway. A typical family in a rural or suburban area often has two or even three cars. After children grow up or life circumstances change, at least one of those cars tends to be left unused.

There are plenty of options for what to do with these unused cars. Some families choose to sell their old cars. Another route is donating a car to charity.

Who Benefits from You Donating a Car to Charity?

Donating a car to charity can benefit a variety of causes. Most people think of the monetary value a donated car can provide, which often benefits the work a charity does. However, there are different approaches organizations take when it comes to donating a car to charity.

Vehicles for Change is an organization that looks at cars not for their monetary value, but for the quality of life improvements they can offer. Their goal is to get cars to families in low-income situations so they can work their way out of poverty. Since buying a car is expensive and often impossible for a family in need, Vehicles for Change aims to make owning a car more feasible.

Car ownership becomes possible for low-income families as a result of people donating a car to Vehicles for Change. Not only are these families helped, but individuals who donate receive perks as well. Unique tax benefits are available to those who donate a car to Vehicles for Change. Because Vehicles for Change uses certain cars to help families in need rather than for revenue for the charity, many who donate are able to receive the full fair market value of their car in tax benefits.

Donating a car to charity not only betters the community and the world; it offers a good deal for your personal finances.

Why Donate to Vehicles for Change?

Vehicles for Change offers the chance for lower-income families to become mobile, enabling them to look for higher paying jobs and reduce absence or tardiness at their current positions. Despite receiving a charitable gift, these families can still retain their independence. Eligible families purchase cars from Vehicles for Change at a reduced cost, often under $1000. If properly maintained by the new owner, these cars are guaranteed to stay on the road for at least two years.

Having access to a car can change lives. Public transit in most areas in the United States is not ideal. Many lower-income families are located in areas where public transit isn't available at all. This puts them at an extreme disadvantage. Even if they are qualified for a higher paying job, many people without cars have no way of commuting. Also, getting to the jobs they do have can be an enormous hassle. Many conditions, such as inclement weather, can limit public transportation, making it impossible for the family's breadwinners to make it to their jobs some days.

If they're paid by the hour, as many lower-income people are, this can have a big impact on the well-being of a family. This lack of mobility leaves families stuck in poverty. Even if they make enough money to pay for gas, maintenance, and insurance on a vehicle, the initial cost is simply too high to make purchasing a new car feasible.

This is where Vehicles for Change comes in. Since 1999, Vehicles for Change has awarded 5,000 cars to families in need, helping over 20,000 individuals. Within the first year alone, 75% of these families reported increased earnings or better jobs as a result of owning a car. The average increase in yearly earnings was $7,000. 75% also reported missing fewer days of work. See for yourself the benefits of donating a car to charity.

Donating a car to charity can therefore have a life-changing impact on families in need. In every community, families need help. With a donated car, you are helping to improve the lives of members in your community.

Donating a Car to Charity

Once you've decided you want to donate to Vehicles for Change, where do you begin? Donating a car to charity is actually quite easy. The first step is visiting Vehicles for Change online. The organization offers three methods of filling out the necessary paperwork. You can fill out a form online, or you can download and print the form to fill it out by hand. If you choose to fill out a hard copy, it can be submitted by mail, fax, or email. The last option is the call the Vehicles for Change office and fill out the form over the phone. The form takes only ten minutes to fill out.

First, your personal information is required – your name, email address, street address, and phone number. You also must fill in your social security number for tax reasons. Vehicles for Change never shares personal information. Then, you must fill in the vehicle's location if the vehicle is at a different location than your street address.

Finally, the form requires the details of the vehicle you intend to donate. This includes the make, model, mileage, VIN, and year. A brief description of the vehicle is also necessary. This includes the color and if it is a 2-door or 4-door car. The most important information is the general condition of the vehicle. You must indicate if the vehicle runs or not and if there is any internal or external wear and tear or damage.

Once you fill out this simple form, a representative from Vehicles for Change will call you to schedule a pick-up for the vehicle. Donating a car to charity couldn't be easier.

What Kinds of Cars Are Accepted by Vehicles for Change? recipient image-01.png

There are all kinds of vehicles in the world. If you have a particular vehicle, or your vehicle isn't in the best condition, perhaps you're wondering: will Vehicles for Change accept my car?

Vehicles for Change accepts most vehicle donations. Cars, SUVs, and trucks are almost always accepted. Motorcycles, boats, and RVs are considered individually. The organization is located in Maryland, and if your vehicle is in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, D.C., it will most likely be accepted. Vehicles from other parts of the country are considered case-by-case, depending on the vehicle's condition.

Auto technicians at Vehicles for Change examine every donated car to determine its fair tax value. Vehicles in any condition are accepted; some are fixed by Vehicles for Change and then given to families in need. Even if your car doesn't run, the organization will still accept it. Towing services are provided by Vehicles for Change as well. If you're wondering about donating a car to charity, contact Vehicles for Change to see if you're eligible. Chances are your vehicle will be accepted.

Maximizing Your Tax Benefits

Part of the deal at Vehicles for Change is getting those who donate cars the best tax benefits available. The nature of the organization already goes a long way to ensure this in itself. When you donate to Vehicles for Change, because some donated cars go to families in need, you may gain a tax benefit equal to the fair market value of your vehicle.

If your donated vehicle can be fixed up by the technicians at Vehicles for Change for less than $1,000 and can provide at least 24,000 miles or 2 years of service, you as the donor can deduct the entirety of the car's fair market value from your taxes. In most cases, vehicles like this are less than 12 years old and have a mileage of less than 150,000. This car is awarded to a needy family.

If your car is in pretty good condition but needs a major repair to be functional, Vehicles for Change fixes it to maximize its value. Then, the organization sells it through Freedom Wheels – a non-profit used car business operated by Vehicles for Change. The money Vehicles for Change receives from Freedom Wheels car sales helps repair more vehicles for families in need. In this case, donors deduct from their taxes the vehicle’s market value minus the estimated cost of repairs.

Luxury vehicles are not ideal for lower-income families, as maintenance can be pricey. If you donate a luxury car in good condition, Vehicles for Change sells it through Freedom Wheels. Donors usually can deduct the selling price of the car.

If a donated car is too damaged to be worth repairing, Vehicles for Change still accepts it. The car is then auctioned off to one of the organization's partners. These vehicles usually auction at anywhere from 1/3 to ½ of fair market value, and donors can deduct this amount.

What Documents Are Needed to Donate a Car?

Donating a car to charity only requires a few documents. The most important document is the title, which must be prepared correctly so the donation is legal. To prepare the title, print and sign your name as the seller. If there are multiple people listed on the title, everyone must print and sign their names or the document is not complete. Then, list Vehicles for Change as the buyer. Do not fill in anything but the buyer and seller fields, and be sure to fill out the document correctly the first time. Like a check, a title can't be accepted if there are things crossed out or if there are errors. Don't forget to save a copy of the title for your records.

Some vehicles need a lien release. If financing was a part of your original purchase of the car, it's necessary for you to obtain a lien release.

Helping Your Community through Vehicles for Change

There are many problems in the world. If you want to help, you're not alone – and you're not alone if you feel overwhelmed, either. It can be difficult to know where to begin, with so much hunger, pain, and poverty in the world. The best place to start can be your own community. By helping your community, you can become more in touch with the world around  you. Beginning to help out at home can give a sense of connection, satisfaction, and well-being.

By donating a car to Vehicles for Change, you can truly change lives. Poverty affects families in many ways. Hunger, sickness, and hopelessness are all parts of poverty that make it so difficult to beat. By donating to Vehicles for Change, you provide a unique gift. You give a family the chance to get out of poverty and regain their independence.

Donating a car is easy. Help others and yourself by looking into it today.