For those who have never even considered car donation, the prospect of giving your car away might seem silly.

Car donation has been around for decades, serving as a unique way for folks to improve the lives of the less fortunate and receive a tax deduction in the process—like other types of charitable donation.

Our goal with The Ultimate Guide to Car Donation Guide is to pull back the curtain and provide a comprehensive look at car donations.

This guide will benefit those interested in donating their car, truck, van, SUV, or any other type of vehicle.

Incentives to donate a vehicle have changed in the last 20 years.

While you’re still able to receive a tax deduction, most donors look at it as a way to quickly part with the hassle of re-selling or salvaging an old vehicle and making a donation to worthy charity.

The feelings you get from giving cannot be replaced.

The team at Rawhide has been accepting car donations in order to help us transform the lives of at-risk youth and their families for over 35 years.

Our most informed donors think of us when their car nears the end of its life because they know that Rawhide

  • inspects and repairs their vehicle to get them a higher tax deduction,
  • brings cars back to its campus for at-risk youth work experience,
  • partners with other charities to provide cars to those in need,
  • and uses 83% of the funds they receive for local programming.


If you’re debating whether or not your car has enough resale value to list on Facebook Marketplace, it’s the perfect time to consider donating it. You’ll spend a fraction of the time you spend listening and answering messages about your car when you donate it.

Reselling an old vehicle can leave you with regret. Did you get everything you could for it? Was it worth the time?

Car donation provides an excellent source of revenue for charities. Thanks to the number of car donations we’ve received through the years, we’ve been able to redirect the lives of so many more youth in need.



What is car donation and why is it important to some non-profits?

Rawhide’s vehicle and real estate donation program began in 1983. While initially, we hoped to receive one vehicle every week, we started averaging 20 vehicles a week around 6 months later.

By 1986 donations were estimated at 3,500 vehicle and real estate donations a year.

In 1991 Rawhide moved from picking up cars directly or having them dropped off at Rawhide to an auto dealer drop-off network with more than over 100 drop-off locations throughout Wisconsin.

READ MORE: What happens to a car after you donate it to charity?

The vehicle drop-off network was expanded into the Chicago area in 1993. By 1995 the vehicle donation program was receiving over seven thousand vehicles each year and reached 8,000 in 1996. By 1997 the program was pulling in 11,000 car, truck, boat, and real estate donations.

Tax donation has changed drastically over the years in regard to car donations. Ever-changing tax laws have changed quite a lot in the car donation industry.

“ I chose to donate my car to Rawhide because I feel strongly about the work they are doing with young men who are motivated to make positive changes in their lives.“
– R. Krause

An overwhelming amount of car donors give for the same reason they support non-profit organizations with cash donations — because they support their mission and believe their donation can do a considerable amount of good.

Why Rawhide is different from other car donation charities

We’re committed to maximizing every single car donation. It begins with providing donors with free pickup and over 150 drop-off locations. Unlike other car donation charities, we have no middleman.

When you donate to Rawhide, we handle your donation directly. Some organizations use third-party resellers who receive some of the proceeds and only return a small portion to the mission.

Work experience
Work experience is the most unique piece of our vehicle donation program and it’s what sets us apart from every other car donation charity in the country.

Young men in our residential care are enrolled in Starr Academy, a private, full-accredited school on Rawhide’s campus. Like most other high schools, they’re able to pick elective classes that align with their interests.

Starr Academy’s auto repair elective class give students the opportunity to perform basic repairs on donated vehicles, preparing them for life in the workforce.


car donation repair for sale


Inspect and repair vehicles for higher tax deduction
As auto repair schools become increasingly rare, this elective class becomes even more important for our students who need real-life job experience.

Unlike all other car donation charities, Rawhide inspects and repairs vehicles before they’re sold.

  • We can provide buyers with a more trustworthy vehicle after inspection and repair.
  • We can provide donors with a higher tax deduction after a sale.
  • We can touch the lives of more youth and families in need.


selling cars to those in need


Providing vehicles for individuals in need
While most vehicles donated to Rawhide get inspected, repaired, and sent to auction, some come back to our campus in New London.

A small group of cars, trucks, vans, and SUVs get repaired at Rawhide and will provide to families or individuals in need in the community


funds stay in Wisconsin


Donation funds stay in your community
For over 50 years, we’ve been serving youth and their families across the entire state of Wisconsin. From Eagle River to Kenosha, to Praire de Chien and Lacrosse, we’re committed to helping at-risk youth in need to live healthier and more responsible lives.

100% of your vehicle donation stays in-state

Rawhide also has outpatient counseling clinics in

  • Appleton,
  • Shiocton,
  • New London,
  • and Milwaukee.

83% of your donation goes to fund our programs

Want reassurance that your donation means something? You can be sure that 83% of your car donation goes to fund programs at Rawhide.

Car donations quite literally drive our mission!



How car donation funds are used at non-profits

We have a responsibility to our donors and the individuals we serve to be responsible stewards of the gifts that we receive. We understand that our donors trust us to help as many individuals as possible with their gift.

how funds are used

We’re happy we’re able to say 83% of funds directly finance programs that serve at-risk youth and families including, residential treatment care, counseling, education, basic living needs, foster care, and various other therapeutic programs.

Rawhide, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. We are committed to staying debt free with no funds that are paid out on interest on any debt. We choose to be wise stewards of the gifts provided by our donors.

It is because of the sacrifice of our donors we are able to help at-risk youth and their families.

If you would like more information on how funds are used, please review our current tax returns on GuideStar.


Why should you donate your car to Rawhide?

We strive to provide car and vehicle donors with first-class service and a transparent and efficient approach to every donation and have since 1983.

10 reasons to consider donating your car to Rawhide

      1. We arrange vehicle pick-up and transport at no cost to you.
      2. Your vehicle may be used for work experience or repaired for another family in need.
      3. On average, vehicle donors receive a 48% higher tax deduction than from other car donation charities.
      4. 83% of donation proceeds directly fund treatment programs for at-risk youth and families.
      5. We accept all car donations. If it rolls, we want it.
      6. We consider boats, motorcycles, RVs, campers, motor homes, jet skis, and more. Call us at 1-800-729-4433.
      7. You have the option of dropping off your car donation the same day at a local drop off center or you can wait for a free pick-up.
      8. When you donate to Rawhide, you’re in good company with our community-focused sponsors.
      9. Your donation funds stay in your community
      10. You’ll feel good about the impact your donation can make.

What kinds of vehicles can I donate?

Most car donation charities accept cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans. We’re capable of accepting a number of other unique vehicles!

Over the years, we’ve taken a lot of interesting vehicles from our incredible donors.

Rawhide accepts the following vehicles on a case-by-case basis:

  • Campers
  • RVs
  • Boats
  • Houseboats
  • Jet skis
  • Motorcycles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Go-karts
  • Dune buggies
  • Heavy equipment
  • ATVs
  • Mopeds
  • Tractor trailers
  • Fire trucks
  • Semis
  • Buses


car donation tax laws


Car donation tax laws

When you donate your car to Rawhide, we put over 30 years of car sales experience to work so that you receive the maximum IRS tax deduction for your donation.

IRS Car Donation Guide

Since 1983, we have satisfied thousands of donors, many of whom have taken advantage of the tax savings that come from a car donation, several times per household.

Car donors in 2019 can choose one of two options allowed by the IRS for a tax deduction:

Based on the value of your car, you may opt to claim up to $500 immediately, without waiting for the re-sale price.


You may wait until Rawhide sells your car if you know the vehicle’s value is over $500.

The Rawhide Sales Team works to ensure that our donors can receive the maximum amount based on your vehicle’s age, condition, and location to determine the best sales venue.

After your vehicle is sold, you will receive an official 1098-C receipt for your records.

Donors need to itemize their taxes to be able to claim the deduction.


car donation checklist


Car Donation Checklist

After your donation is approved, you can either arrange a pick-up time with Rawhide or take your car to a local drop-off center.

Download a Printable Checklist

If your vehicle is not running or unsafe to drive, please call us at 1-800-729-4433 to arrange a free pick-up. Consult the following donation checklist for a seamless donation.

  1. Gather all pertinent documents
    • Your clear title or registration (for untitled items)
    • Supporting documents, including the original lien release (photocopies and faxes are not acceptable)
    • Any appropriate verifying documentation
  2. Sign the title
    • All owners listed on the title or registration must sign off as sellers. If two owners are listed on the title, both must sign the title.
  3. Remove license plates and all personal items
    • Remove garage door opener, cell phone, emergency kits, etc.
  4. Clean out any trash, debris, hazardous material, or unwanted items from the vehicle
  5. Have items ready for the exchange
    • For pick-up service: If you are requesting the vehicle to be picked up at your home or other location, we will give instructions on how to handle the title. But do have your keys, lien release, and other supporting documents ready.
    • For drop-off centers: Have your keys, signed title, lien release, and other supporting documents with you at the time your vehicle is dropped off at a drop-center.
  6. Complete the paperwork at the exchange
    • Allow 15 to 20 minutes to complete the necessary paperwork.
  7. Receive your receipt for tax deduction

How to complete your title for donation

  1. Seller signatures
    • If two people are listed as registered owners on the title, both signatures are required. Use the word “and” between the signatures, e.g., John P. Doe and Jane P. Doe.
    • If only one owner is listed on the title, only that person’s signature is required.
  2. Odometer readings
    • Check “In Excess” if you have turned over your odometer. If not, do not mark.
    • Check “Not Actual Mileage” if you replaced the odometer or if the odometer is broken or inaccurate
  3. Salvage or junk cars
    • Do not markBrand Disclosure” unless you know for sure your vehicle was once a salvage vehicle (does not apply to Rebuilt Salvage), was flood damaged, or was a previous Police or Taxicab vehicle.
  4. Complete name and address information.
  5. See sample title.




Car Donation FAQs

We’ve been answering questions about car donations for decades. This FAQ provides a look at some of the common questions we hear.

If you have a question that we haven’t answered, we’d encourage you to call a vehicle donation expert at 1-800-729-4433.

What can I donate?
We accept car donations, boats, trailers, RVs, motorcycles, jet skis, snowmobiles, and buses. Have an item that is not on the list? Give us a call at 1-800-RAWHIDE or email us. There are some things that we cannot accept:

Computer Equipment

Will I receive a receipt telling me how much you sold my car for?
We will send an initial receipt when you complete your paperwork. If you plan to claim over $500, we will need your social security number before sending an additional receipt with the sale amount Rawhide received.

What date will be on my receipt?
The date for your tax-deductible receipt will be the date you signed over your title to Rawhide or the date you submitted your donation to Rawhide.

How much will I receive as a tax deduction for my car donation?

The IRS allows you to claim a tax deduction of:

a) The value of your vehicle up to $500. It is up to the donor to determine the fair market value.

b) The amount we sell your vehicle for- if it more than $500.

*The deduction is of the sale value only if the donor itemizes their deductions.

Rawhide Inc., is a classified 501(c)(3) charity organization. You can check with your tax adviser or accountant to determine how a tax benefit would affect your tax situation.

Do I need to submit a Form 1098-C?
The IRS requires you to provide specific information regarding your car donation, boat donation, or airplane donation. Although you are not required to complete a 1098-c, it does provide the format of the information that is required. If you plan on claiming more than $500 we will provide you with a copy of the 1098-c.

Do you give estimates on the sales amount for donations?
Rawhide can provide a range of what similar vehicles have sold for at auction as a comparison, although, this is not a guarantee of the amount we will be able to sell your donation for, based on year, make, model, condition, mileage, and current market conditions.

Do the boys fix the car donations?
All donations are evaluated and inspected, although not all donations are repaired. The students at Rawhide have an opportunity to be involved in a work experience including helping evaluate, detail, and completing minor repairs on select donations.

Where do you accept car donations from?
We accept cars nationwide. Please call our donation experts to find out if we are able to pick up your vehicle.

What must I do to my car in preparation for donating?
Please clean out personal items from the vehicle and remove the license plates before we pick up the vehicle.

My car isn’t running. Will you still accept my donation?
Yes, we accept both running and non-running vehicles. If it rolls on wheels, we want it!

How long will it take to sell my vehicle?
Typically, we will process and sell your vehicle within approximately three months. Although, due to market conditions this process may take longer.

Can you pick up the car at my home?
Yes, we have the availability to pick up vehicle donations from your home or individual location. Please call with the details of your situation.

How quickly can you pick up my car?
Our goal is to pick up vehicles within two to three business days from the time you provide the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Do I need the title to donate my car?
Rawhide can only accept a vehicle with a title from the last registered owner of the vehicle. If you are not the last registered owner and would like to donate the vehicle, you will need to register as the new owner with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If you have lost your title, you may obtain a duplicate from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Where is the nearest location where I can drop off my car?
Rawhide offers over 300 convenient locations throughout Wisconsin to drop off your vehicle. You may obtain the closest location by completing the online car donation form or calling 1-800-RAWHIDE (1-877-265-8848).

Does Rawhide sell cars?
Donated vehicles are sold to licensed auto dealers at wholesale dealer-only auctions. Select collector vehicles are sold on our eBay store and available to the general public.

I put new tires on my vehicle, can I keep them?
Your donated vehicle must have tires and wheels that roll to ensure we can safely load and transport the vehicle. If you have new tires on the vehicle that you wish to keep, place an alternate set of tires on the vehicle before pickup.