Donating Your Car? Don't Get Taken For a Ride

New York, NY (November 4, 2005) - Want to get the most mileage out of your car donation, but can’t figure out what’s real and what’s not? Are you bombarded with thousands of messages from charities you recognize and some you don’t? Don’t let confusion put the brakes on your vehicle donation, says the National Kidney Foundation (NKF).

The NKF, the first major national charity to offer vehicle donations through its Kidney Cars program, can help you make a decision you won’t regret.

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Here are some tips that will help you swerve around some common potholes.

  • Make sure the charity is a name you recognize and trust. Be familiar with the charity's work. Be careful of “sound-alike” charities, i.e., organizations that advertise for cars using names that sound similar to those of major national charities. Know the legal name of the organization to which you wish to donate and be sure that it is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Ask how much money the charity receives. A good car donation program returns at least 65% of the donation dollar to the charity, yet there are many programs that return as little as 10%. Kidney Cars returns 67 cents of every dollar to the National Kidney Foundation.
  • Know what you need to do to get a tax deduction for your car donation under the new tax laws. If you itemize your taxes, you may be entitled to take a tax deduction. To do so, get a tax receipt from the charity within 30 days of the sale of the vehicle. The receipt must contain the following information: Sale price of your car if it sold for $500 or more, a statement that the deductible amount may not exceed the amount the charity received for the car, your social security number, the vehicle identification number (VIN), the vehicle’s year, make and model and proof that the vehicle was sold in a transaction between unrelated parties. Generally, your deduction is equal to the gross proceeds received by the charity from the sale of the vehicle. If your car sold for $500 or less, you can take a deduction for the fair market value.
  • Ask how the car will be handled. Think twice about contributing to a program that drives your vehicle from your house. You may still be liable for that vehicle. It’s better to have the vehicle towed, even if it’s in working condition. Ask whether the towing company is licensed and insured. Be certain that it is the charity's agent.
  • Sign the title directly to the charity or their agent. Don’t leave the title blank under any circumstances. Some charities ask that the title be left blank or that the donor simply sign the “seller” section. This practice may leave the donor liable for the vehicle months after it has been picked up. The title should be signed directly to the charity or its agent.

“Last year, nearly 75,000 Americans chose the Kidney Cars Program to help the NKF raise awareness about kidney disease through programs in research, patient services, professional and public education, advocacy and organ donation,” says John Davis, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation. “Kidney Cars meets all of these standards and helps the National Kidney Foundation drive down kidney disease through programs in research, patient services, professional and public education, advocacy and organ donation.”

To learn more or to donate online, visit Tell a friend about Kidney Cars

The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary nonprofit health organization, is dedicated to preventing kidney disease, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease and increasing the availability of kidneys for transplantation.