Veterans buying a new car have many choices when it comes to deciding what to do with the old one. Is it better to trade it in, sell it privately or donate it?
It turns out that donating an old car to a worthy Veterans’ service organization can reap many benefits. In fact, with the help of websites like CharityWatch.org and CharityNavigator.org, you can identify which Veterans’ groups will make the best use of your donation. It’s also surprisingly simple, effective and rewarding. Consider helping a fellow Veteran with your car donation for the following reasons:
It helps a fellow Veteran in need
As one of more than 20 million Veterans in this country, you know that it’s a group made of many people who may need a little extra assistance. With the typical vehicle donation, the car is sold at an auction, and the proceeds go toward helping Veterans in need. For example, the vehicle-donation program for the group Homes for our Troops — top rated by both charity watchdog websites — goes to providing severely injured Veterans with mortgage-free homes that have been specially adapted for their unique needs. In some cases, a donated vehicle also may be used by the charity itself or given to an individual Veteran.
It helps Veterans’ families
As all Veterans know, a Veteran’s family makes its own significant sacrifices. Oftentimes, it’s not only a fellow Veteran, but also their loved ones that will benefit from your vehicle donation. Family issues are a particular concern for recent Veterans, too: In a recent Blue Star Families survey, 40 percent of post-9/11 Veterans said that “family reintegration” was either “difficult” or “very difficult,” and a key recommendation from the study was to continue boosting resources to support all members of Veterans’ families. Imagine the burden that is lifted for the family receiving a donated vehicle.
It will make you feel good
Yes, it’s better to give than to receive. That said, donating your car to a fellow Veteran also has its benefits for you, the donor. A roundup of studies from the Cleveland Clinic, for instance, revealed that supporting charities can have a noticeably positive effect on your physical and mental health. That includes lowering your blood pressure, increasing your self-esteem, and reducing depression and stress levels, leading to greater happiness and a longer life.
You can benefit from tax advantages
A more concrete advantage to donating a vehicle can be found at tax time. Now, this is something you should discuss with your own tax professional, as the IRS naturally has something to say on the matter. But many folks who donate their used vehicles to a qualifying charity will be able to deduct a fairly significant sum—the full proceeds that the Veteran’s group receives when a vehicle is sold. If the vehicle will be used by the charity, you could be eligible to deduct its full fair-market value.
It’s virtually hassle-free
Donating a used vehicle also eliminates the negotiation process when you go to buy your new car, which is one of the biggest sticking points to a dealership trade-in or a private sale. When donating to a charity organization, most of the donated cars are flipped anyway. You can be confident that Veterans’ organizations aren’t going to bicker with you over condition, mileage and the like. Some groups even have a policy to take any used vehicle at all, regardless of whether it’s running or not, and some will come out to your location to pick up the vehicle. A word of advice about the latter situation, though: Dropping off is the way to maximize your donation’s value, because that way, the organization doesn’t have to use any of its resources to come get the vehicle.
You can inspire your children
Inspire the next generation to grow up caring for veterans and others by demonstrating charitable behavior. Among the best things you can do for them — according to Parents.com — is lead by example. Research shows that children share more often when they see others share, and by making charity part of your life, it will become a part of theirs as well. This creates a win-win outcome for all involved.
Charles Krome is a car enthusiast and an automotive writer for CARFAX. He enjoys sharing car buying resources for Veterans.