Dear PoP – Where Should I Donate My Car?


“Dear PoP,

I recently moved into the city and brought my car with me. I find that I am using the car less and less. The most I drive the car is to move it from one side of the street to another for street cleaning. So I decided to get rid of the car. Should I donate this car? I never have donated a car so I decided to look into it with the end of the year coming. According to IRS laws you can donate only what the car is sold for at auction, unless the charity keeps the car, in which you can deduct what they claim its worth. So my question to your PoP readers is which charity will give me the best donation.”

I suppose it depends on how much your car is worth. Or if you want to donate it for charitable reasons. If you want to donate it for charitable reasons I’d imagine that the tax write off would be the same at any charity. Do you guys have any recommendations on which charity to donate to?

22 Comment

  • Melwood accepts vehicles.

    As for deductibility, I assume you already itemize? Otherwise, you won’t get any benefit unless your state tax liability plus the charitable contribution amount is greater than the standard deduction.

    If you can claim the deduction, the IRS outlines specific documentation requirements, which it sounds like you already started to look into.

  • If your car is pictured above I have a simple two word answer

    TO ME

  • NPR!

  • If you like NPR that’s a great way to go…

  • Purple Heart…in honor of veterans’ day

  • I donated mine back in the day before they changed the rules and could claim the Kelly Blue Book value for your car…man were those good times….

    Like a few others have noted, I donated it to NPR which has made me feel immensley less guilty for never donating during pledge weeks (the worst weeks of the year). It was so, so, so simple.

    But I do like the Purple Heart idea too…

  • I thought the only reason people donated cars to charity was because it was basically valueless on the open market and the tax deduction is worth more than the car + hassle of getting rid of it.

    It sounds like your car runs. So why don’t you just sell it? If charity is really your goal, then sell it and give the proceeds to charity. Unless it’s a total POS you will probably have a better bottom line this way, as will the charity if you pass it on to them.

  • the USO of greater dc makes it very easy and will send a guy out to pick it up and do all the paperwork.

  • I donated it to NPR (WAMU) and it was a great decision. They picked it up within two days and it was very easy. I also got a larger tax deduction than expected.

  • Donate your vehicle to the National MS Society!

    “Proceeds help to fund local programs for people with MS, as well as MS research projects.”

    Multiple sclerosis (or MS) is a chronic, often disabling disease that attacks the central nervous system (CNS), which is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. Symptoms may be mild, such as numbness in the limbs, or severe, such as paralysis or loss of vision.

  • Melwood for sure. Donated my old one to them – they came and picked it up.

  • When you donate, make sure that the car title is changed, and take your tags. there have cases,where the recipient continued to use the car without changing the paper work and the donor got tickets notices in the mail.

  • the takoma park boys and girls club will give you a receipt….and pick it up if I remember correctly

  • I’ve donated my car to two places.
    The first was a homeless charity in Leesburg that would, depending on the reliability, use it for their clients to drive to job interviews, etc.

    The second car I donated to WPFW. Though I listen to WAMU/NPR way more, I figured PFW needs it more because they’re completely listener supported, vs. NPR who get corporate and government sponsorship.

    I frankly didn’t think much about how much of a writeoff I’d get. More like “get that thing out of my site.”

  • I donated my car this year to Melwood, they made the whole process effortless. I ended up getting $2000 tax deduction for it which was fantastic b/c i was going to try and sell it for that price.

  • I know Zipcar used to give free membership for life and (I believe) $100 in driving credit. I could not find any current information on it for DC. It could be worth looking into if you think you’d use it.

    Also, Volunteers of America.

  • I donated a car to Purple Heart last year, they made it so smooth and easy, and they got a value at auction that I don’t think I would have gotten if I had sold it myself.

  • Central Union Mission!

  • if you donate it to an organization that gives it directly to a person you can take the blue book value. But if you donate it to NPR who auctions it off you only get that price. For example, we donated my grandfathers’ car after he died to the local food bank who put the title directly into a needy families name rather than then the food banks.

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