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Donating A Vehicle Helps In More Ways Than One

Aug 17, 2007
If you want to help your favorite charity, but are not sure how to do so, there are a number of creative donation options available through most major organizations. Whether it's a donation of time, money or objects, most charities are in big need of any assistance they can get. Even old cars, boats and trailers can translate into cash in the charity's hands, and a tax deduction for you.

The number of charities that accept donations of cars, boats and RVs are many and include such notables as the American Diabetes Association, Salvation Army and more. Here are a few things you need to know before donating cars or boats to nonprofits:

* Condition. Some agencies only accept vehicles in fully workable condition or close to it. Others will take push, pull or drag models. It all depends on the agency and what they intend the use for. Oftentimes, those agencies that accept push and pull models intend to rehab and sell them or just outright sell them to make money for their charitable operations.

* Transportation. Some agencies will arrange for pickups, others will not. If your donation isn't operable, you'll want to know this information.

* Tax deductions. Donations to certified nonprofits will, or should, result in tax deduction statements. It's a good idea to have a basic understanding of the vehicle's value and get the donation statement. This can result in a big tax deduction at the end of the year.

* Designated use. Some agencies will allow you to designate what program or programs you'd like to benefit from your gift. If this is the case with the agency you're intending to donate to, explore their programs and make the choice.

So why do nonprofits need cars, trucks, boats and RVs? The answer to that depends on the agency. There are three main reasons why nonprofits accept these items as donations:

* Resale. Some agencies simply clean up and resell the donations to help them bankroll their charity efforts. At auction, cars, trucks, boats and more can bring them sizeable amounts that really assist in their efforts.

* Agency reuse. Depending on the quality of the vehicles donated, the agency itself might be able to use them for its own fleet. Nonprofits that help elderly people get to their medical appointments or deliver food, for example, can benefit from having solid, workable cars donated to assist them in this mission. It costs a lot for a nonprofit to buy cars, and when they're donated, their operating funds can go on the things that really matter.

* Reuse for clients. Some agencies, especially those that help people get back on their feet, try to provide working vehicles for their clients. The outright donation of a workable car, for example, could end up in the hands of a single mother working to make ends meet. No strings attached, the car donation can help her get to work, take care of her kids and more.
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