We know when choosing a place to donate your car, you have a lot of options. A simple Google search of "car donation" inundates you with over 56 million results. There are several reasons one may donate a vehicle, but the best motif is the positive impact your donation can have in your local community. It is a competitive industry and we want to make sure you are picking the right organization for your vehicle dollars.
The most important piece of advice is to do your research. Many of the vehicle donation programs advertise broadly as being "for kids" or for "a cause", so take the time to look into where exactly your donation is going. If they are going to kids, in what context does it support children, and is it a certain demographic of children, or all children? If it is a donation to "a cause", what cause? If you find yourself having to dig around just to get to the bottom of what the charity you are supporting may be, ask yourself if this is the type of organization to which you want to give your donation.
There are several car donation foundations out there that will use any marketing ploy possible to get your business, going as far as misleading you in things like extra perk vacations, large company endorsements, and the aforementioned cause itself. Though a free vacation may seem like an attractive exchange for the clunker on the driveway, know that often times these giveaways include hidden fees as well as timeshare presentations. Of course, the businesses that use these ploys will not tell you this when you opt in for the vacation. You usually do not find out until the last second. If it smells like a scam, it probably is.
Many programs entail some investigative skills just to find out what "cause" it is they support, when any reputable donation program should be transparent in the basic marketing. Wheels for Wishes, for example, openly advertises that it benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a nationally recognized and accredited foundation that works hard to make sure every child with a life-threatening illness gets the chance to get a special day or gift of their choosing. Plus, it is a mission one can feel great about giving back to for the cheer it brings a family during what is generally the most stressful time in their lives. It is important from a personal standpoint that you pick a mission that you feel comfortable supporting and is associated with welfare work that you personally can stand behind.
Next, it is in your best interest to make sure that the program you decide to donate is 501(c)3 INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE registered. If it is not, they will certainly be able to accept your donation, but you will not receive any tax deductions for your vehicle. If you do choose a registered charity, you receive up to market value of your vehicle in your next tax return filing, which is a huge advantage when compared with non-registered charities. The alternatives are businesses that are state-registered fundraisers. Although registered fundraisers are legitimate in the sense they also raise money to benefit a charity, often times they are stigmatized with sharing the smallest percentage with the non-profit. Fundraisers can also become sticky as it forces the charity to incur all of the associated fundraising costs on their books, which can hurt a charity’s ranking.
So when choosing a car donation program, it is important to listen to both your heart and your brain. For more information on Wheels for Wishes and Make a Wish, please visit www.wheelsforwishes.org or www.wish.org.