If you’ve got a car you know is nearing the end of its life, you’ve likely started an internal debate about how you’re going to sell it after it can no longer safely get you from point A to point B. Many individuals are not aware that they are able to donate an old, broken down car to charity.

Is it better to donate your old car or sell your car privately? While selling your vehicle privately might yield a better end-return, there are many benefits if you choose to donate your car to charity.

Donating your car is a meaningful decision…and should be treated as such! Above all else, deciding to donate your car is a personal decision. Connecting with a charity that is close to your heart helps inject real meaning into the situation.


Why donating your car to charity will benefit you

Giving to charity can give you a lot of good vibes! At least, that’s what the kids would say. Research actually shows that your brain’s pleasure centers light up when you give. Many donors would agree that a huge motivation for donating a car is the joy they receiving knowing that their original purchase will go on to help more people and might actually save someone’s life.

Today, giving goes a long way — because you can make sure of it! Using sites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar, you can see how much of your donation will be used to serve the mission you choose!

Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young said it best in 1970: teach your children well. If you have children, showing them the true spirit of charity can really inspire them!

Trading vs donating your car to charity

Many new car buyers will consider trading in their old vehicle at a dealership when they purchase new.

If your old car is actually on its last legs, there’s a good chance you’ll be disappointed by the trade-in value of the vehicle. The trade-in provides an easy option for disposing of your junk car if you have no desire to donate it.

Read The Ultimate Guide to Car Donation

With rising interest rates, people are holding onto their cars longer than they used to. Cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans over 10 years old are among the most common vehicles donated.

Older cars with many miles have little trade value to dealerships. These types of cars are great for car donation!

Pros and cons of donating vs selling your car

Donating your car: pros

  • Positive community impact
  • You’ll feel great!
  • Free pickup
  • Eligible for tax deduction
  • Hassle-free, no private selling or trade-in

Donating your car: cons

  • Must itemize your taxes to receive tax benefits
  • Private sale value might outweigh donation value

Donating your car, truck, van, or SUV doesn’t have generous tax implications as it once did, but that doesn’t stop people from donating!

Selling your car to a private party: pros

  • A higher potential return on sale or trade
  • Though selling your car outright will likely bring in the most money, it comes with a potentially large headache

Selling your car to a private party: cons

  • Time-consuming
  • Can take a lot of effort
  • Closing the sale
  • Paperwork

From taking detailed photos to responding to inquiry messages, selling your car to a private party can be painstaking and time-consuming. You might even have to sit on your car for a few months to wait for a buyer. Donating takes only a few minutes; you can do it online or over the phone.

When you’re selling a vehicle privately, you’re the salesperson! While some individuals can handle themselves well during a sale, others find the entire process uncomfortable and awkward.

Having strangers come to your home to take a look at or test drive your car may present a potentially dangerous situation — especially during a test drive with a stranger.

Payment options during a private sale is also a cause for concern. Cash is king, but accepting other forms of payment can cause headaches.

3 Ways your donated car can help your community

Rawhide programs are community-based, designed to help youth and families where they are at locally. Strong, healthy families mean a strong, healthy community.

Some non-profits, like Rawhide, team up with local charities to provide vehicles to individuals or families who are struggling to make ends meet. Rawhide is able to inspect and repair select cars to ensure they’re running and trustworthy.

If your charity uses its funds wisely, your car can help a lot of struggling individuals.

When you decide to donate

Autotrader recommends that the safest path to successful car donation is finding a charity with lots of car-donation experience.

Rawhide has been accepting vehicle donations since 1983. During the last few decades, we’ve seen monumental shifts in car donation habits; largely due to changes in tax law. From year-to-year, we process close to 10,000 vehicles.

We actually could be considered the largest used car dealer in the state of Wisconsin!

The donating vs selling debate comes down to what you want to do with your money. For many, the tax implications won’t be enough to see any return on your donation.

READ MORE: The Intrinsic Value of Vehicle Donation

Many of our donors view at as an easy way to unload a pretty big hassle for a feel-good return! Rawhide uses 83% of the funds it receives from vehicle donation and puts it back into programming.

Did you know the act of giving lights up pleasure centers in the brain?

Thank about it. Would you be happier if you traded in your car only to have it junked by a dealer for measly $100 or donated to a charity that can maximize the value left in the vehicle?

For many donors, the good feelings they get from giving is reason enough to donate.

How to select a charity to donate your car to

When you’re selecting a charity to donate your car to, there are a few things you should consider first. Make sure the organization reflects you.

  • Values
  • Preferences
  • Search rating sites like GuideStar or Charity Navigator
  • Align with a mission

Find out how your charity measures success. Is this a charity that you could potentially support year after year?

There are seemingly more charities than ever before. GuideStar and Charity Navigator contain records from the IRS and provide a place to research how charities use the funds they receive. And if you’re doing major giving, you can pay for a premium tier that provides in-depth financial analysis.

Should I sell or donate my junk car to charity?

Do you think your clunker is worth more than a tax deduction? While a good portion of cars donated to charity will be sold at auction, many are beyond repair and are used for salvage.

People who need to get rid of a junk car tend to think about donating more often. Many car donation charities are able to accept junk car or vehicle donations.

Rawhide accepts cars in any age or condition as long as a hauler can access the vehicle.

When you donate your junk car, Rawhide will come and get it for free! Even your car or truck is stuck at an auto dealership or service garage, Rawhide can pick it up at no additional charge.