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Archives for July 2014

Car Donations: What Drives You?

What Our Car Donors Tell Us

Ever wonder what motivates people to donate vehicles to Rawhide? We’ve queried our donors over the years on the reasons they choose to:

  1. Donate vehicles in general, and
  2. Select Rawhide to receive their donated vehicles.

Here’s what they said.

It Pays to Be Picky

Many of our donors say that a tax deduction is their primary motivation for donating vehicles. Yet, not all car donation charities are created equal when it comes to the amount donors are able to deduct. Rawhide donors receive a 48% higher tax deduction* per vehicle sale than from other car donation charities. So, donors who are primarily interested in the tax break, choose Rawhide for the higher deduction.

The Mission Matters

While most donors appreciate the tax break with the higher rate, a good share of this group say who they donate to is just as important. An organization’s integrity and mission count heavily when deciding who gets their vehicles. They want to know it’s going to a reputable nonprofit with a mission they can stand behind. In their eyes, Rawhide wins on both counts. To us, the youth at Rawhide win on all counts. Car donors trust Rawhide because we have been accepting car donations for over 30 years.

Still, other donors are less concerned about the tax break and care more about the mission. They specifically choose Rawhide because they believe in what we are doing. The tax deduction is simply a bonus to them. They are aware of our 83% success rate in helping troubled youth turn their lives around and want to support our programs.

De-Cluttering is Their Mission

Some vehicle donors are less concerned about the tax deduction or Rawhide’s mission and focus instead on de-cluttering their yards, garage, or lives. These donors simply want to get rid of a vehicle that’s no longer of use to them and just want it GONE. We are glad to be of service. Rawhide will pick up cars for free and take it off of their hands.

The Intangible Benefit

Then, there is the warm fuzzy factor. The good feelings that come from knowing you are contributing to a cause greater than yourself. It’s the intangible benefit of giving that has health benefits as well.

In 2006, neuroscientists at the National Institute of Health (NIH)** found that charitable giving stimulates sections of the brain that create a warm-all-inside feeling. Scientists also believe that giving releases endorphins—a natural mood elevator. So perhaps this is what Saint Francis of Assisi meant when he said “For it is in giving that we receive.” Or as Jesus put it: “It is more blessed to give than receive,” Acts 20:55. Either way, charitable donating gives donors a warm fuzzy feeling.

Summarizing What You’ve Told Us

Reasons people donate vehicles:

  1. For the tax deduction
  2. To support a mission they believe in
  3. To de-clutter their lives

Reasons people chose Rawhide:

  1. 48% higher tax deduction that other car donation charities
  2. They believe in our mission of helping at-risk youth turn their lives around
  3. They trust us. They know we have served car donors for over 30 years.
  4. We make it easy for them to de-clutter their lives by offering free, quick pick-ups and handling the paper work.

What Drives You?

No matter what motivates you to donate a vehicle or two to Rawhide, we are thankful you think of us and the youth and families we help. Because in the end, you’re really donating to them—for their second chance at having a healthy, productive life.

We’d like to hear from you. What motivates you to donate a vehicle? Even if you have not done so before, what would motivate you?

* Rawhide’s average sales price, based on 2012 IRS tax filings, is 48% higher than the top nationwide car donation charity.
** Moll J et al. “Human Fronto-Mesolimbic Networks Guide Decisions About Charitable Donation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, October 17, 2006, Vol. 103(42) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17030808


Jeff Miller: The Man Behind the Curtain

Rawhide Vehicle Sales Manager

When Dorothy landed in the fictional Emerald City, she met many helpful citizens on her way to face The Great and Powerful Oz, or the man behind the curtain. Much like The Emerald City, our Vehicle Donations Department is brimming with helpful, essential team members who ensure our vehicle sales process runs smoothly. We also have a man behind the curtain—Jeff Miller, Sales Manager.

Getting to Know Jeff

Jeff has been with Rawhide for over 7 years. His extensive sales background spans 20 years; during which time he ran his own company and managed various sales teams for other companies. As a previous small business owner, he enjoys helping other small businesses grow.

He likes meeting new people and building long-term relationships with our business partners, like dealers, auction houses, and inspection sites. Jeff also likes working with our donors. He works to ensure our donors are happy with the outcome and  satisfied with our customer service.

Jeff’s Role at Rawhide

At Rawhide, Jeff manages all aspects of our vehicle sales department. He oversees the sales process, auction venues, and six vehicle inspection sites throughout Wisconsin. Our auction venues include:

Our eBay store is open to the public and sells collectible cars, RVs, motorcycles, campers, boats, and often unique items like fire trucks and buses. When an eBay item sells, Jeff’s team prepares the necessary paperwork and handles the pick-up logistics.

Our live auctions are for dealers only. Buyers can attend the auction on site or online. Jeff attends most dealer auctions on site; however, in some instances he monitors an auction on his computer. In both cases, Jeff oversees the auctions to ensure vehicles sell for the best prices.

Back at the ranch, Jeff works closely with our office support staff. His enjoys helping them grow into a successful, efficient team.

When not at work, Jeff enjoys spending time at his cottage with his family, fishing, and playing with his grandchildren.

Why Jeff’s Role Matters

Our mission is to help at-risk youth and their families lead healthy and responsible lives through our programs and services. Proceeds from sales fund these programs. Jeff works to satisfy donors and manage the vehicle sales that help fund our mission.


From Runaway Child to Devoted Family Man – Alumni Story

At a time when most young boys are swimming, playing baseball, or eating s’mores around a campfire, Jake* was living on the streets and sleeping on roof tops at the tender age of 8. As a runaway, this way of life was Jake’s new normal for two years until he entered the juvenile justice system and bounced from foster home to foster home.

Six years later (age 16), Jake arrived at Rawhide—handcuffed in the back of a squad car. By his own admission, Jake stepped out of the car appearing hardened in a long green trench coat with multiple tattoos, body piercings, and enough makeup to rival an edgy rock star with attitude.

Handcuffs were nothing new to him, though. By the time he landed at Rawhide, Jake had made plenty of wrong choices. He was given an ultimatum—go to Rawhide for a year or be taken to a facility where he would be watched for the rest of his life. Jake chose Rawhide.

“I thought Rawhide would be an easy in and out. I never imagined it would change me,” he said.

They Saw Through the “Junk”

Walking from the car to Rawhide’s Youth Services office, Jake wondered how he would be perceived. “For some reason, the people sitting at that table saw through the junk and the garbage and saw a decent kid underneath it all.” He took note.

Rawhide’s first group home—The Lodge—became Jake’s new living quarters. There, he experienced a structured family environment and felt the firm, yet loving care of his new houseparents. He was surprised that they never treated him like a case file. He took note, again.

Life Threw a Curve Ball

Just as Jake’s heart started to soften, life threw him a curve ball—as life can do. His houseparents announced their retirement. “I learned at a young age growing up in a dysfunctional family, eventually everyone will leave you…” he said. His houseparent’s plans to retire triggered Jake’s abandonment issue. So he packed his belongings into an army duffle bag, stole a bicycle, and started peddling down the road away from Rawhide. Being a runaway early in life, Jake learned to deal with problems by running away from them.

He biked along the road until he saw an unattended, unlocked large sedan with keys dangling from the ignition. He swapped “wheels” and headed for Madison, WI. Since the only head lights that worked were high beam, the traveling sedan soon caught a highway patrolman’s attention. And the high-speed chase began.

It Was a Very Bumpy Ride

The speedometer needle surpassed 120mph. Jake could only guess at his speed as the landscape flew by in a big blur. He eventually hit a steal beam with the car’s passenger side which thrust the car into the air and up a hill. The car rolled over 17 times until it came to rest, and Jake…was not wearing a seatbelt. Miraculously, he crawled out of the broken driver-side window with barely a scratch. He ran into the nearest building and hid in a janitor’s closet where police caught up with him. He was promptly escorted to jail once again in the back of yet another squad car.

Back at the Ranch, while awaiting his impending court date, Jake reflected on his choice to run away and the resultant events. “I knew I was going to get the book thrown at me. I didn’t believe that God could forgive me for what I did. I took everything people gave me and threw it in their face.” The idea that God would forgive all of his mistakes was a foreign concept to Jake.

Every Picture Tells a Story

On his court day, Jake resolved to be truthful and own up to his mistakes for the first time in his young and trauma-packed life. Jake admitted to the judge that he had stolen a car, flipped it, and damaged it beyond repair. He was not able to make eye contact with the car owners, however.

As Jake finished his story, the Judge shared photos of the damaged car with everyone in the courtroom, including the car owners.

“Do you have any idea how close you were to dying in that car?” the judge asked Jake. “Obviously you are meant to be alive. I don’t know what we need to do to impress on you to make you realize that your life is worth living. But obviously someone wants you to know that; otherwise, you wouldn’t have survived this wreck.”

The car’s transmission and engine landed in the back seat, and the car’s roof was smashed to the floor, EXCEPT for the roof directly over the driver’s seat—directly over Jake’s head. That part of the roof was shaped like a bubble; just large enough to protect his head. “Anyone and everyone who saw it called it a miracle. There was no way I should have lived,” admitted Jake.

The Victims Speak Out

The judge asked the car owners (victims) if they wanted to address Jake. Jake stared at the ground, refusing to look at them. When the judge pressed him to look at the victims, he noticed a woman sobbing alongside her husband. The woman made eye contact with Jake and asked, “do you know what I spent my entire night doing? I spent my entire night praying to God that you were okay. That whatever He had to do to protect you that He would do it.”

The husband turned to the judge and said, “It is just a car. We don’t care about a car, but we care an awful lot about the person in it. We had an idea that you were probably a Rawhide guy. We have lived up the road from Rawhide for years. We called our pastor and started praying with him; asking that God would impress on your heart how valuable you are to Him.”

At this point of the interview, Jake’s voice trembled, “This is what these people said after I destroyed their car. They had no concern for the property and money they lost because of me. They were only concerned about me, my safety, and to tell me that God loves me.”

The judge concluded the trial by ordering Jake to pay for the totaled car and return to Rawhide to finish high school. Two years later, Jake graduated from Rawhide’s Starr Academy with a high school diploma.

“Rawhide is My Home”

Regarding his stay at Rawhide, Jake admitted, “I didn’t always like it. It wasn’t always fun or easy, but I learned so many things. I learned how to water ski, downhill ski, detail a car but most of all, I got an idea of what living in a house with a real family was like. I connected with a lot of great counselors with a passion for God.”

Upon leaving Rawhide, Jake found his own apartment in which to start a new chapter. “I made all sorts of mistakes after I left Rawhide. I did stupid things that landed me in hard spots, but I didn’t commit any crimes or serious offenses. It took me awhile to settle in because life outside the group home had its challenges.  Where else can you go that in the course of the day everyone you talk to is a Christian? Where else can you go where unconditional love, forgiveness, and acceptance is not only the norm but is expected?”

Today, Jake is happily married with children. He holds a full-time job and also attends school in hopes to become a published author. “Rawhide is an environment of faith. Rawhide staff lives that day by day. I am proud of my time there and the relationships that I built. Rawhide is my home.”

How Vehicle Donations Help

Your vehicle donations fund programs that make a difference for at-risk youth and their families. Donors typically receive 48% higher tax deductions per car sale than other car donation charities. Learn more about how to donate to Rawhide so that you can help change a life like Jake’s and increase success for future Rawhide alumni.

*Names have been changed to protect privacy

Rawhide Students Visit Fox Valley Tech

by Miles Smith

Culinary arts, Criminal Justice, and Firefighting are some of the courses that our students at the Starr Academy are interested in pursuing. Rawhide’s at risk youth who attend Starr Academy may take electives like track and field, auto-shop, wood-shop, basketball, and careers class.  In the careers class elective, students learn about different jobs they can pursue when they graduate high school. Students who are in the careers class elective have an opportunity to visit companies around the area to learn about possible job opportunities. This helps educate the students about jobs they could hold in their future and help them learn first-hand what the job entails. Also, students get a chance to tour Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin, where they learn in detail about specific programs that they possibly might be interested in.

Fox Valley Technical College offers a wide variety of classes and courses for incoming freshman and the non-traditional student. This tour helps our students learn about their future opportunities and educates them on how easy it is to go to a tech school to gain a degree. During our recent tour of the Fox Valley Technical College the students chose three areas they wanted to learn about, Culinary Arts, Criminal Justice, and Firefighting programs. During the tour they learned about, how much tuition is per semester, what tuition includes and the most fun part where the classes were held and about the specific courses for the programs.

The two programs emphasized during the tour were the Culinary Arts and Criminal Justice programs. The students enjoyed both tours and had fun learning about the huge kitchens at the Tech and the new facilities being built for the Criminal Justice program. The delicious smells radiating from the kitchen made all of the students wonder if they wanted to be a chef, and the Criminal Justice classrooms made some wonder if they could be in the show CSI or NCIS.  This tour helped the students realize that graduation is coming soon and that they have to make a decision about the direction their life is headed. The Careers class offers an extensive amount of knowledge about possible career paths. Not every person goes to college and earns a degree, but it is very important for the students at Rawhide to know the options they possess for their future.

This is just one example of how your donations are affecting the students here at Rawhide. With your generous donation students are learning how to better their lives and the lives of others.

A Wisconsin Car Donation Story: No Snow Bank Too High

Here’s a fun Wisconsin car donation story, complete with high snow banks and freezing temps.

About a week before Christmas in 2012, Wisconsin experienced a two-day blizzard. Amy, a former Rawhide donor, phoned us the following day about donating her 1996 Volvo. She requested a special pick-up because the car wasn’t drivable due to a bad alternator. (The fact that the Volvo wasn’t drivable was not an issue for us; we accept all Wisconsin car donations, running or not.) Due to the blizzard, the Volvo had been plowed-in, and Amy was worried about getting parking tickets. She was unable to remove the snow, since the temperature dropped right after the blizzard.

Our vehicle donor service rep, Joe, sprang into action. He called our transportation manager, Charlie, who scheduled a tow company to pick up the car. They arrived at Amy’s house on Christmas Eve morning to haul the Volvo away. She was so happy that the car was gone but even more impressed with the warm and cheerful tow-truck driver who even made her laugh!

Amy emailed us to share her story. We are happy to hear from car donors when their vehicle donation went better than expected.

Amy’s Wisconsin car donation, like so many others, goes to support our mission — to inspire and equip at-risk youth and families, throughout the nation, to be profoundly changed, restored, and responsible.