Where & How to Donate Cars to Charity & Nonprofits Nationwide

If you have a car or other type of vehicle that you no longer need, even if it needs work, why not consider donating it to a non-profit organization? In order to accomplish their objectives, and often just to stay alive, charities and nonprofits depend on donations from people who believe in their cause. In exchange, you’ll not only receive a tax write-off, but you’ll gain the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped promote a cause that you believe in. In here, I’ve described an easy way how and where you can do this, besides some unique types of causes you might consider.

The unique non-profits I’ve included all work in conjunction with Cars with HeartâÂ?¢, a trustworthy, nationwide, IRS-approved vehicle donation program based in St. Paul, MN, that enables us to solicit and process our donated cars (or trucks, vans, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, jet-skis, RV motor homes, and some heavy equipment), to charities and nonprofits. If you go to their website, you’ll find many traditional causes that your sale will support. But first, think about what unique causes you truly believe in and want to support.

I’ve listed three non-profit organizations in St. Paul that, although they aren’t in the limelight, are just as vital and also work through Cars with Heart. 1. One focuses on environmental education and habitat restoration. 2. An animal shelter agency that doesn’t euthanize animals if they aren’t adopted, and 3. An organization that takes in injured, ill and orphaned wildlife nationwide and rehabilitates them.

If any of my favored causes touches your heart, contact a similar organization in your area to see if they, too, work with Cars with Heart http://www.carswithheart.com/ Cars with Heart resells our donated vehicles, then gives the profits to the non-profit we specify. Call or e-mail your favorite cause to see if they accept vehicle donations and what kind, and ask if you should work directly with them, or if they prefer you work through Cars with Heart.

At the end, I explain how the Cars with Heart program works & answer some frequently asked questions about it (#4). I’ve also included the IRS’s updated info. on car donations and tax write-offs (#5) as of 2012. Important: If you donate a car directly through Cars with Heart, or any such facility, make sure you tell them which organization you want the profits from the sale of your car to go to. And always remember, when you donate a vehicle anywhere, keep a copy of your paperwork!

1. DODGE NATURE CENTER, 365 Marie Ave. W., West St. Paul (651) 455-4531 http://www.dodgenaturecenter.org/

The mission of the Thomas Irvine Dodge Nature Center, an environmental education and habitat restoration organization, is to provide a place where we can experience, study, and enjoy nature, and in doing so be inspired to become responsible stewards of our environment. Located on 320 acres, the private, non-profit organization‘s center has prairies, hardwood forests, lakes, wetlands, ponds, miles of hiking trails, a working farm, apple orchard, and bee apiary. It hosts over 40,000 children and their families per year, and has something to offer for every age group year-long, from preschoolers to O.W.L.S. (Outwardly, Wiser, Livelier, Seniors).

Dodge’s many landscapes become outdoor classrooms for more than 50 different curriculum topics for visiting school groups, space for exploring preschoolers attending their premier preschool, community education on evenings and weekends, day camp programs for school-aged children throughout the year, miles of hiking trails, and prairie and oak savanna restoration projects.

And then there are the center’s programs, such as: “Feeding Reptiles and Amphibians,” where we can learn about the myths and realities of how they live and catch their food; “Hunters of the Night,” where we can learn more about and see live raptors, “Exploring the Winter Night Sky,” where families can hear some fascinating myths about the night sky while sipping hot chocolate before heading out to see a meteor shower; “Minnesota Rock History and Fossil Collecting” and more. Or, we can just walk around the grounds, have a picnic, and listen to the sounds of nature.

The center’s naturalists and staff are always available to answer questions, and volunteers are more than welcome.

To donate your vehicle: Call Dodge Nature Center directly, at (651) 455-4531 to make arrangements, and you can drop your vehicle off there. All you’ll have to do is sign over the title, fill out a form, and hand over the keys. They’ll give you information about what you can write off for taxes. Or, if needed, Cars with HeartâÂ?¢, which resells the vehicles for them, will pick up your vehicle.

2. The HUMANE SOCIETY FOR COMPANION ANIMALS (HSCA), St. Paul, MN: 1115 Beulah Lane, (651) 645-7387. Their site also has tips for the care of various pets, featured animals waiting for adoption, news and more.

St. Paul website: http://www.animalshelter.org/shelters/Humane_Society_for_Companion_Animals_rId2512_rS_pC.html e-mail: info@hsca.net

To find other similar shelters in MN, go to http://www.animalshelter.org/shelters/Minnesota.asp

To find similar shelters in YOUR state http://www.animalshelter.org/shelters/states.asp

The Humane Society for Companion Animals is an independent, donor-supported, non-profit corporation that is not part of any governmental agency or national humane organization. They rely on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to help them provide the community with valuable animal services. Back in 2006, eighty-two cents of every dollar donated went directly to support the organization’s animal programs, but there is a much greater need for donations, including donated cars, now.

As the oldest sheltered animal protection agency in Minnesota, the HSCA accepts all homeless or unwanted animals brought to their doors. This means they don’t screen out animals that have health problems or animals that aren’t as popular with the adopting public. And HSCA won’t euthanize an animal simply because it has not been adopted. They’re partnered with Cars with Heart to help meet the needs of homeless animals.

To donate a car, truck, van, motorcycle, boat, snowmobile, jet ski, RV motor home, etc., contact Erin Sullivan, 763-412-4957 or esullivan@animalhumanesociety.org

3. The WILDLIFE REHABILITATION CENTER OF MINNESOTA (WRC), 2530 Dale St., Roseville, (651) 486-9453 (Based in MN, they care for injured, ill or orphaned wildlife NATIONWIDE.) http://www.wrcmn.org/index.php

This nonprofit, donor-support organization was established in response to the increased need for medical care of injured, ill and orphaned wildlife. It provides quality medical care and rehabilitation for all injured, sick and orphaned wildlife and shares its knowledge with those of us who care about them. As one of the largest and busiest wildlife medical centers in the nation, they have a medical staff of eight, but over 400 volunteers who care for, rehabilitate and release the wildlife they’ve worked with. They treat over 8,500 wild animals every year (representing more than 160 different species).

Located in Roseville next to the Harriet Alexander Nature Center, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center (WRC) seeks to be a national leader in environmental medicine and ethics and to promote the healthy cohabitation of people and wildlife.

Besides their belief in providing quality care to all wildlife that comes into their care, the center respects the life and health of all wildlife regardless of species, seeks to enhance the co-existence of people and wildlife and the stewardship of the natural environment, believes that the wildlife in our midst are an important part of the quality of life in our region and should be preserved and protected, help people understand their own impact on the environment, oppose the mistreatment and abuse of all wild animals, and believe in the continued advancement of the knowledge of wildlife medicine.

If you have found a sick or obviously injured animal, bring it to the Center immediately. If the animal is orphaned, call them prior to bringing in the animal at (651) 486-9453. Please don’t e-mail them; they’re overwhelmed. They’re open every day of the year, but in case they’re closed, they advise that you not offer the animal any food or water. A vet should examine the animal first to ensure that this won’t further harm it. Place the animal in a pet carrier or secure box with air holes. They recommend that you keep the contained animal in your garage (except during the winter if yours in unheated), away from noise, pets and humans to reduce the stress on the already-stressed animal. You can place half the container on a heating pad set to low (no higher) if the animal is very young or cold and wet.

If you’d like to check on the status of an animal you brought to them, e-mail them at status@wrcmn.org, but wait three days prior to doing so, so they can get a better idea of how the animal is responding. In your e-mail include the name under which the animal was admitted, and the date and species of animal (if known). During May-August, it may take up to 5 business days for a reply.

Other frequently asked questions, wherever you live, such as what to do if a bird hits your car window, can be found at http://www.wrcmn.org/faq.php

To donate your vehicle: The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center asks that you go directly to Cars with Heart� (which is located in St. Paul, but accepts vehicles nationwide), and work out the arrangements with them. Just make sure you specify that you want the profits from the sale of your vehicle to go to WRC. The website for Cars with Heart� is http://www.carswithheart.com/ Submit your donation via their online scheduler. If you have any questions, call toll-free to 1-877-604-9435.

#4. FAQ (IN-DEPTH) ABOUT CARS WITH HEART� http://carswithheart.com/donor-faq

What should I bring to donate my vehicle? We would like the keys and title with your donation. If you don’t have either of these, call our donation representative toll free at 1-877-604-9435.

Is my donation tax deductible? Donations to non-profit organizations that are classified as an under 501 (c) [3] are tax deductible. We have verified that all the charities listed within this site are classified with the IRS as non-profit charitable organizations. With respect to individual tax situations, please check with a tax advisor about how your donation will impact your situation.

Value of a vehicle. According to the IRS (as of 2012), you are entitled to deduct (a) the fair market value of your vehicle up to $500.00, or (b) if the donation sells for more than $500.00, Cars with Heart will mail you a completed IRS tax form 1098-C with that value for tax purposes. (Also, see my “IRS and Tax Write-offs for car donations” topic a bit below here.)

Can I donate a vehicle that hasn’t run in years? Yes, we accept most donated vehicles and boats, running or not. (Although the condition of the vehicle could affect the fair market value of the donation.) Please submit your donation via our online scheduler. If you have any questions, call toll-free 1-877-604-9435.

Can I deliver my vehicle? Yes, you can drop off your donation. A receipt will be issued at that time.

Will Cars with Heart pick up my vehicle? Yes, you can schedule a pick up time via our online scheduler. You pick the day and time range, and we’ll facilitate your request. You can also call us toll-free at 1-877-604-9435 to speak to a donation representative.


According to the IRS’s updated “Donors’ Guide to Car Donations” site (as of 2012) for donating cars (or trucks, vans, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, personal watercraft, and RVs) to charities or non-profits http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4303.pdf, the most common types of qualified organizations are section 501(c)(3) organizations, such as charitable, educational, or religious organizations. (If the charity or nonprofit you choose works through Cars with Heart, you won’t have any problems!)

“A qualified vehicle is any motor vehicle manufactured primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways; a boat; or an airplane. However, a vehicle held by you primarily for sale to customers, such as inventory of a vehicle dealer, is not a qualified vehicle.

“Generally, the amount you may deduct for a vehicle contribution depends upon what the charity does with the vehicle as reported in the written acknowledgment you receive from the charity. (What the written acknowledgment must contain depends on what the charity does with the vehicle.) Charities typically sell the vehicles that are donated to them. If the charity sells the vehicle, generally your deduction is limited to the gross proceeds from the sale.”

IN SUMMATION, hopefully I’ve covered everything you’ll need to know about how and where to go to donate your car or other vehicle nationwide. But remember, the three options I included are only suggestions, because they touch my heart. Go ahead and listen to yours, and donate your car to whatever charity or non-profit organization that touches yours. They direly need your support, and believe me, they’ll be grateful you thought of them. And just in case you can use a little money, there’s also that tax deduction you’ll be able to claim.

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