How to Donate Cars for Breast Cancer

January 26, 2012

Cars for breast cancer not only support breast cancer charities, but can give you a significant tax reduction. Unfortunately, donating a car is not an easy task to accomplish unless you have the right information.

  • Check your tax return form and determine if you can itemize your deductions. Many decide not to break down their deductions because it would not make financial sense, and they would rather receive a standard deduction. However, you should still donate your car if you choose not to itemize. 
  • Find the fair market value of your car on Kelley Blue Book if you want to itemize your deductions. The market value is the amount you will be allowed to itemize on your deduction. 
  • Decide which breast cancer charity will receive your car donation. Many reputable charities, like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, are funding breast cancer research, treatment and awareness. Make sure that your selected charity has tax exempt status by visiting the IRS website. This will ensure that your charity is receiving the most value for the car.
  • Determine the percentage of your car value that will go to the selected charity. Try to avoid non-profits that rely on intermediary third parties to accept car donations. Many of these third parties pass along little car value to non-profits. 
  • If you must go through a car broker or third party, contact them with accurate documentation. For example, keep the car's Certificate of Title on hand. You should also keep the receipt recording the transaction and a picture of the car. This record keeping will prepare you for possible IRS audits. 

Related Questions and Answers

Is There a Humane Society Car Donation Program?

Yes, the national Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals operates a very active humane society car donation program. Indeed, in many local jurisdictions the local SPCA chapter also operates a very active car donation program. Other humane society car donation programs are operated by the Buddy Dog Humane Society, the Greyhound Rescue Project, the national Seeing Eyes for the Blind Companion Dog program and national and local chapters of the Assistance Dog of America organization whose dogs help the wheelchair-bound. Each of these programs operate s on very tight budgets and the cars that are donated help to defray the cost of the great work they do.

What are the Most Popular Charitable Auto Donation Programs?

In New England, "Helping Hands" is a charitable auto donations program. In other parts of the country, the major donation programs include the American Diabetes Assn., the Cancer Research Foundation, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the American Red Cross, the Boys Scouts of America, the Alzheimer's Support Assn., the Breast Cancer Assn., the American Kidney Foundation, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the USO. Each of these organizations will quickly and gladly take your vehicular donation as it is one way for them to not only make money quickly, but it is also a way to provide a person with pressing needs an inexpensive source of transportation.

What the Best Way to Find a Vehicle Donation Processing Centers?

Most major programs, such as "Helping Hands," a major vehicle donation processing center, will leave information at dealerships about how to access their services. If you have access to the Internet, you can also search on "Vehicle Donation Processing Center" and you will receive a very large list of alternatives in your area. You may also find that local junkyards are vehicle donation processing centers as this makes sense since they are among the locations that process used cars. Finally, local auto auctions may also help you by acting as a processing center.

How Big is the Tax Deduction for Donating a Car?

There is no standard tax deduction for donating a car to a charity program. The amount of the deduction is established via weekly auction reports for the donated vehicle. The reports are generated by auctions across the nation. The deduction amount is the "blue book" value for the vehicle. The "blue book," or Kelly Blue Book, is used by financial institutions, dealerships and consumers across the country to find the value of a car. An alternative is the "Black Book," offered by many dealerships and then there are buying guides such as or that give you the value of your car. The value is a percentage of the average price found in any of these services.

Are there any Rules for Getting a Donated Car?

In order to get a donated car you must be a participant in one of the qualifying programs: American Diabetes Association, Cancer Research, Red Cross and others. The car is safety checked and then auctioned at a very reduced price - 50 percent or more savings in some cases - to a person who needs low-cost transportation. The only real requirements, other than participating as a member of the qualifying programs, are obtaining the funding to complete the purchase. For the person who donated the vehicle and the charity, it is a win-win. Today, nearly 1 million vehicles per year are donated. Up from 773,000 in 2000, when donated vehicles amounted to $654 million.

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