Why and How To Donate a Car This Christmas

Lisa Steuer McArdle
Dec 24, 2021 · 4 min read
How do you get around without a car if you live in a rural area, the suburbs, or otherwise don't have access to affordable public transportation? For many families who are in the most desperate need of a car, car buying isn't even an option. Finding a job, getting to medical appointments, or just shopping for groceries is incredibly stressful when you don't have basic, reliable transportation. 
Fortunately, there are good people around who are willing to donate a car to those in need of transportation. More importantly, there are organizations that match those donated cars to the people who need them the most.
If you're buying a new car, consider donating your old one to charity this Christmas.
Cars 4 Christmas is just one such organization that donates cars to those in need.
According to Helping Americans Find Help, Cars 4 Christmas receives around 15,000 requests each year but is only able to fulfill approximately 300 requests a year. That's a lot of disappointed families! So, who do they choose to receive a vehicle? Disadvantaged families, people with disabilities, and veterans are the highest priority. 
In fact, the charity is even expanding with a separate Cars 4 Heroes program that will help veterans and their families with transportation.

Make Christmas wishes come true by donating a car

The organization uses the Christmas season's spirit of giving to raise awareness of its charitable cause and encourage donations of vehicles of all kinds. It will gladly accept your donation of a car, van, handicap-accessible vehicle, truck, motorcycle, or moped to provide someone with essential transportation.
However, it doesn’t stop there. They also encourage and deeply appreciate donations of commercial vehicles, buses, motorhomes and other RVs, snowmobiles,  jet skis, and boats of all kinds. Even lawn tractors and planes are on the group's wish list! The sale of these more unusual vehicles provides much-needed funds to rehab more suitable forms of transportation. 
The charity will accept a vehicle from any state, whether or not it still runs. Don't worry about getting your donated vehicle to Cars 4 Christmas, either. Free towing from anywhere in the nation is provided if it's needed. 

How does Cars 4 Christmas differ from other car charities?

Cars 4 Christmas is a year-round 501(c)(3) charity. You can avoid all the hassle and inconvenience of selling your non-running vehicle when you make someone's life immeasurably better by donating it. Unlike many other car charities, Cars 4 Christmas will make sure you get the biggest possible deduction in response to your kindness and generosity.
Unlike most car charities, Cars 4 Christmas doesn't auction off most (or all!) of the cars it receives. Cars 4 Christmas also only sends cars to the scrapyard if they're truly unsalvageable. In those rare cases, you'll receive the standard IRS deduction of $500.
When a charity auctions off a donated vehicle, your deduction will be whatever (typically low) price the auction brings. Even many reputable charities wholesale vehicle donations rather than donating them to someone in need. Not only that, but they frequently hire for-profit processors to handle the auctions. Those processors sometimes charge a 70% commission in fees! At Cars 4 Christmas, all processing happens in-house.
Most of the cars donated to Cars 4 Christmas are repaired and then given to someone in desperate need of a vehicle. When your donated car actually goes to someone in need, you can deduct the current full retail value of the vehicle. A tax deduction based on the fair market value of a vehicle can be hundreds, or even thousands of dollars, more than a vehicle that's wholesale or sold for scrap.
Unfortunately, even the dedicated individuals at Cars 4 Christmas can't save every donated vehicle. Some are just too far gone, don't meet their “mechanically sound and safe” standard, or would be too expensive for the recipient to maintain. In those cases, the vehicle is sold and the funds raised go toward repairing another vehicle that can go to someone who needs it.

Be nice to yourself and others this Christmas

Donating a car to someone in need is a really nice thing to do. And Cars 4 Christmas makes it easy! Just remove all of your personal belongings and leave the original certificate of title or an official replacement copy and the keys under the floor mat on the driver's side. A Cars 4 Christmas driver will take the car and leave a receipt.
While you're at it, be nice to yourself by treating yourself to some amazingly cheap car insurance using the Jerry app.

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