Is making a charity car donation smart or foolish? | DGM 030

Is making a charity car donation smart or foolish?

Welcome. This is the podcast that helps you do good even better — regardless of which charities or causes you support. 

This is Ed Long. In each podcast I talk about charities and provide actionable tips to help donors and volunteers to take their philanthropy to the next level and do good even better.

Give smart from your heart, because doing good matters.


We’re building a community of caring people who want to make the world better. And are willing to spend time and energy to make it happen. And to find and support strong charities doing solid work.

You can Join the Community now. Last podcast Gerald in New York City, became member #350. This time we welcome more than 20 new members, including Peter in Rockville, MD, and Mark in Owasso, OK who became members #360 and 370. If you haven’t joined yet, will you become member #400?


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Episode sponsor

  • Today’s sponsor is the number 87.
    • Individuals across the U.S. are the most powerful force for charity. 
    • In 2013, individuals as a group were again by far the top givers in the U.S. — giving almost $292 billion (or 87%) of the total.
    • This information is as reported in Giving USA 2014: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2013, a publication of Giving USA Foundation™. Total reported giving to charity was about $335.2 billion..
    • Read more.

Main Topic: Is making a charity car donation smart or foolish?

  • Introducing CarDonationCalculator.org — a public service program of SeriousGivers. We’ve put in hundreds of hours to create this new website. I’m darn proud of it.Does a charity car donation make sense?
  • CarDonationCalculator.org is not a car donation program. SeriousGivers doesn’t have a car donation program. And we don’t plan to have one.
  • Hundreds of thousands of cars have been donated to charity. If you’ve ever thought about donating your used car to charity — you’re not alone.
  • Are car donations different from cash donations?
    • A cash donation you make directly to a charity is a pretty efficient way to give. The charity gets 100% of what you give.
    • The typical car donation involves the sale of your car by or for the charity. After the costs of the donation program, the charity could get less than half of the value of your donated car.
    • Read more.
  • When the charity will use the car directly in its programs, a car donation produces solid benefits for the donor and the charity.
  • The typical car donation program, however, results in the charity receiving 40% or less of the private sale value of the donated car. Here’s the arithmetic,
    • Donated cars are typically sold at auction or for scrap. The proceeds equal the trade-in value or less. That’s a 20% or greater “sales haircut.”
    • Then the typical car donation dealer keeps 50% or more of the proceeds. Actually, in the most recent reports to the CA Attorney General, the dealers kept 69%.
    • So, $2,000 private sale value car, less $400 (20%) sales haircut, produces proceeds of $1,600. Subtract an $800 (50%) dealer percentage, and the charity nets $800 (40%).
  • In many cases, it’s a better overall choice for the owner of the car to sell it themselves and donate part of the proceeds to charities of their choice.
  • So, is making a charity car donation smart or foolish for you?
    • CarDonationCalculator.org will help you look at your car and your circumstances. And figure out your best approach.
      • The site has handy FAQs section plus a Summary page where you can quickly see the results of the calculations other users have made.
  • Your smart and easy assignment for today:
    • Take 10 minutes and take CarDonationCalculator.org for a test drive.
    • The START HERE page gives you super fast way to get up to speed.
    • Guess the value of your used car and enter it in step one. In a few minutes, you’ll know the smart approach for you.

Charity-related News

  • Fake charity focused on autism
    • Police in Massachusetts have arrested the operator of a fake charity focused on autism.
    • From a donation point of view, fake charities do double damage. They steal from the donor, and they take money from the people the donor was trying to help.
    • In this case, the scammer focused on public concern about autism. He called his group “Paintballers 4 Autism.”
    • Read more.

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About Ed Long, the podcaster

Podcaster Ed Long has been preparing more than 40 years to do this podcast. He knows charities and the rules that apply to them. He’s analyzed charity finances and operations.  He’s founded and run charities, and volunteered for them. He’s helped the public and law enforcement fight fake charities, and has served as a philanthropy educator and coach. Before all that he worked as a partner with a major Wall Street law firm. Ed is the founder and CEO of SeriousGivers, which itself is a charity. Ed knows the great work that strong charities can do with the resources entrusted to them, and is passionate about helping others find and support strong charities.