Looking for reputable car donation charities? Read on. 

Giving to charity isn’t just an act of generosity—it can be a healthy tax break, too. 

While you can donate gifts and cash to charities, donating your car is a lesser-known way to give. Not only can donating your car give you a healthy tax deduction, but it’s also a great way to give back because charities supporting at-risk youth to animals in need all accept vehicles as donations. 

However, there are some boxes you need to tick before you hand over the keys, such as getting your paperwork in order and making sure your chosen charity is legitimate. 

In this post, we’ll break down the best car donation charities by cause and cover the things you should be looking for in a legitimate charity. 

Let’s dive in!


Things to Know Before Donating Your Car to Charity

Before you hand over the keys to your car, there are some boxes you need to check to make sure the charity is legitimate and meets government guidelines.

First, there are strict IRS guidelines you need to meet to write off your car as a deduction. For example, the total donation can’t be more than 50% of your adjusted gross income, and if you leave the sale of the car up to the charity—the gross proceeds of the sale can be deducted.  

The tax guidelines are extensive, so you should check them out yourself on the IRS website

You also need to pick your charity wisely and make sure it is legitimate. Not only should your chosen charity be tax-exempt and registered as a 501(c)(3) organization, you should cross-check it on the IRS website to confirm it has tax-exempt status

It’s also wise to donate your car to a charity that has a good reputation and track record of showing how donations actually help their cause. You can use a website like Charity Watch to research a charity’s tax status, affiliation, and stated mission.  

A quick search for PETA shows that the charity has a certified 501(c)3 status, as well as a host of affiliated names: 



Reputable Charities Accepting Car Donations to Support At-Risk Youth

Looking to donate your car to help at-risk youth?

There are many registered charities on the IRS website you can choose from that provide services like counseling, therapy, and residential treatment for at-risk youth. Better yet, most of the charities have free pick-up services and can help you maximize your tax deduction. 


1. Rawhide Youth Services

The Rawhide Youth Services has processed over 200,00 charitable vehicle donations in the state of Wisconsin since 1965 and has streamlined the process to make it as easy as possible to donate and help people get the most from their donations.

Rawhide arranges for free pick-up or transportation for any donated vehicle using a nationwide network of carriers. All you have to do is fill out the donation form on our website, and a member of our team will contact you to schedule a pickup time and provide a tax receipt. 

We ensure the bulk of your donation will directly fund our at-risk treatment programs. On average, 83% of every vehicle donated is put straight back into the charity to help change the lives of at-risk teens and families.

Rawhide doesn’t just accept car donations. You can donate your boat, motorcycle, RV, motorhome, camper, or even a jet ski!

Several other charities help vulnerable and at-risk youth, including: 

  • One laptop per child
  • Children’s wishes
  • Songs of love
  • Mind-Body Awareness Project
  • Adoption Rhode Island
  • Bert’s big adventure
  • D.A.R.E. Massachusetts
  • Toys for Tots
  • Child Find of America
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


Reputable Charities Accepting Car Donations to Support Animals in Need

Animal charities go beyond just looking after cute puppies. 

They play a big role in conservation, reducing animal cruelty, solving animal homelessness, and boosting vaccinations. 

Here are some of the top organizations you can donate your car to. 




PETA … and car donations?

Yes, PETA is one of the big-name animal charities that accept cars, boat, truck, motorcycle, motorhome, jet ski, and even airplane donations. 

In America, PETA accepts vehicle donations in any condition from all 50 states. All you have to do is fill out the vehicle donation form, and a PETA representative will contact you and organize for your vehicle to be towed when it’s convenient for you. 

After it has been picked up, you’ll receive an IRS tax receipt for your records.


Animal Rescue, Inc

Like PETA, Animal Rescue, Inc. accepts donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles, motorhomes, and boats.

The non-profit will come and pick up the vehicle you’re donating within 72 hours of you contacting them. After they collect your vehicle, you’ll get an initial car donation receipt, and then Animal Rescue, Inc will work to sell your vehicle. After it’s sold, the charity will provide you with the tax forms you need to make the proper deduction when it comes time to file your taxes.

If you need help during the process, the charity’s team is available 24/7 to help out. You can donate to the charity here. 


Canine Companions for Independence

Canine Companions for Independence is primarily focused on providing assistance dogs to those in need. 

Like the other animal charities on the list, you can donate unwanted vehicles like cars, trucks, boats, places, and motorcycles to the charity, whether they’re working or even if they’re broken down!

Once you get in touch with the charity (you can do so here), their team will pick up your vehicle for free and provide you with the tax forms you need to receive the deduction on your return. 

Other reputable animal charities accepting car donations to help support animals in need:

  • WildCare
  • Golden Gate Labrador Retriever Rescue
  • Search Dog Foundation, National Disaster
  • The Washington Animal Rescue League
  • Days End Farm Horse Rescue
  • Greyhound Welfare
  • Alley Cat Allies
  • Save the Manatee Club, Inc.
  • NEADS Inc


Reputable Charities Accepting Car Donations to Fight Community Hunger 

Feeding communities is one of the most worthwhile ways to donate your car to charity. Depending on the charity you choose, these organizations work to combat hunger on local, state, nationwide, and global levels. 


Feed The Children

Feed The Children’s mission is simple. One in five children go hungry, and they want to solve the crisis. 

You can donate your car, truck, boat, or RV. The charity will be in touch within 3 days to organize pickup, and they have a team on hand to help you with any questions you might have in regard to your tax receipt. 

The charity has glowing reviews of their car donation efforts, like this one: 

“It has been a pleasure donating a car to Feed The Children. I appreciated the fast responses to my emails, and the quick pickup of the car.” – Elton D. New Bedford, MA

Other reputable charities accepting car donations to help fight hunger:

  • Toys for Tots
  • Child Find of America
  • One laptop per child
  • Children’s wishes
  • Songs of love
  • Bert’s big adventure
  • D.A.R.E. Massachusetts
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital


Reputable Charities Accepting Car Donations to Support Veterans

Vets Vehicles

Vets Vehicles is the leading charity for car donations supporting veterans. 

The process is simple. All you need to do is: 

  • Fill out the donation form or call 888-VETS-VEHicles (888-838-7834) and get your vehicle’s information processed
  • Schedule a pick-up time that suits you (for free)
  • Organize your paperwork to receive your tax benefit

The charity accepts donations of cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, boats, and many more. 


Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

Disabled American Veterans (DAV) specifically supports wounded combat veterans. 

They accept vehicle donations from all 50 states, and they’ve even adapted their pickup policies so they’re safe during COVID-19. Every vehicle pickup adheres to strict policies, so drivers practice safe and secure interactions when they come to tow the vehicle, and you can even request no-contact pickup of your vehicle!

As well as accepting cars, trucks, and boats, you can also donate farm machinery and heavy equipment to DAV by calling 833-CAR-4DAV (833-227-4328) or filling out their secure online vehicle donation form.

Other reputable charities accepting car donations to support veterans:

  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation
  • AMVETS Charities
  • Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
  • Fisher House Foundation
  • Special Operations Warrior Foundation


Reputable Charities Accepting Car Donations to Medical Research

Finally, you can donate your vehicle to medical research. 

Charities vary from fighting diseases like cancer to researching cures for Alzheimers, food allergens, and Down Syndrome. 


American Cancer Society

Car donations to the American Cancer Society help the charity fund cancer research, advocacy, education, and free patient service programs.

The charity says car donations can also allow them to give cancer patients free rides to treatment, provide support calls, and provide free lodging for patients. Like other charities on the list, the society accepts vehicles whether they’re running or not. 

You can donate trucks, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles, trailers, and recreational vehicles to the society online or by calling 1-888-227-5500.


Alzheimer’s Foundation of America

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America has joined forces with V-Dac so you can donate your car quickly and easily online. 

If you have an unwanted car, truck, boat, or RV, you just need to fill out the online form or call 877-999-8322 to arrange for a free pickup anywhere in the United States. The money raised from your vehicle donation will go towards giving support, services, and education to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, as well as funding research for better treatment and a cure.

Other reputable charities accepting car donations to support medical research:

  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America
  • ALS Association
  • Arthritis Foundation
  • American Liver Foundation
  • March of Dimes
  • PKD Foundation
  • Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation
  • CaringBridge
  • Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
  • Down Syndrome Congress, National
  • Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


6 Steps to Choose a Legitimate Car Donation Charity

Step #1: Check that the charity is legitimate

Before you hand over your keys to any charity, the first step is to make sure they are legitimate. 

The most important element is to check the charity’s registration status. You need to make sure that the IRS has designated the organization as a non-profit with a 501(c)(3) status. Now, if the charity mentions that they have this charitable status on their website or social media status, that’s great—but it’s not enough. 

To double-check, type in the charity’s name on the IRS website. Here are the results for a search on Vets Vehicles:


You should also cross-examine the charity using sites like  Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to see whether it has a good reputation for following through with its promises.


Step #2: Make sure at least 80% of proceeds go to charity

It’s not unusual to have anxiety about where charitable donations go. How can you be sure that the charity can maximize your donation, and it will actually go to those who need it?

Many car donations now run through third-party websites or organizations, so you must make sure at least 80% of the car’s overall value is going to go to your chosen charity—not the third party. 


Step #3: Check that all paperwork will be provided

Apart from contributing to a good cause, the most important part of your car donation is getting the paperwork right. 

After all, if the charity you choose to donate your car to doesn’t provide you with the paperwork you need, you won’t be able to claim the donation as a tax deduction come tax time. 

Here are the most important points when it comes to car donation paperwork:

  • The IRS requires you to acknowledge, in writing, from your chosen charity if your vehicle donation is worth more than $250. At a minimum, the documentation must include your name, vehicle identification number, and the date of donation
  • If your vehicle is valued at more than $500 but under $5000, you need to fill out Section A of the IRS Form 8283 and provide it with your tax return 
  • If your vehicle is worth more than $5,000, you need to get an independent appraisal as well as completing Section B of Form 8283

It sounds like a lot, but you can get help from the Hearst Black Book, Kelley Blue Book, or National Auto Dealers Association if you need a rough market value for your car. 

CNBC’s Andrew Osterland also recommends when the charity picks the car up or when you drop it off, that when you sign over the title of the car to the organization, a representative signs it as well. 

“If someone is picking the car up, have them sign the title and take a photocopy of it,” he says.  

“People have been on the hook for liabilities on donated cars that were not properly signed over to a new owner.”

Step #4: Choose charities that don’t charge removal or towing fees

Most of the charities on our list offer to pick your car up for free—which is exactly what you should seek when thinking of donating your car. 

Not only is it more convenient than driving the car to your chosen charity, but you’ll also save money as some charities charge removal or towing fees.


Step #5: Choose charities that allow direct car donations

The easiest way to make sure you make the most out of your car donation is by choosing a charity that you can deal with directly. 

Although third-party donation sites are convenient and promise that 80% will go directly to the charity, most organizations now offer online donations as well as dedicated customer service teams to arrange for direct donations. 

Donating directly is also the best way to make sure the organization gets the best possible price for your car. While unpleasant, some third-party providers sell vehicles at lower prices because they’re not as incentivized as the charity to get the best possible price for the car. In fact, reports have found some attorney general offices had even filed suits against car donation program operators to crack down on them for parading as charities when they were, in fact, for-profit businesses.

The best advice we can give is to do your homework and if possible—give directly to the charity of your choice. 


Wrapping Up

Donating your car is a win-win for you and many worthwhile organizations out there. 

Not only is it convenient (hey, you even get it picked up from your driveway!), but it’s a great way to get a deduction on your taxes. While donating your car is safe, you must research the charity you’re thinking of giving to and make sure they are legitimate, have a good reputation, and will provide you with the correct documentation you need when it comes time to file with the IRS. 

If you’ve done your research and found a worthy cause, all that’s left to do is hand over your keys! 🔑