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Car Donation Tax Deduction

Donating A Car to Charity

Donating a car to charity is not that difficult. However, you need to be aware of the tax regulations before you donate your car to a non-profit organization. The IRS provides some general rules of thumb on car donations:

  1. Starting in 2005, if the claimed value of your donated car exceeds $500 and the item is sold by the charitable organization, your tax deduction is limited to the amount of money the charitable organization actually receives from selling the vehicle.
     
  2. The charitable organization must provide you (the donor) with a written acknowledgement within thirty days of the sale, specifically stating the net amount they received for selling your donated car.
     
  3. As an example, let’s say you make a car donation to a non-profit charity, and the fair market value of that car is $5,000. The charity then sells the car without “significant use” or “material improvement”, for a total sale price of $2,500. Your deduction is limited to $2,500, not the $5,000 fair market value.

This is substantially different than earlier years when you could deduct the entire estimated fair market value instead of the amount that the car donation actually raised for the charity.

Another caveat is that many non-profit organizations use a third-party administrative service to handle the pick-up and auction sale or your car donation. The resulting administrative fees are often 20% or more of what the car sells for at auction.

Your tax deduction is correspondingly lowered by the amount of third-party fees because the net amount the charity receives has been reduced. In the example above, your car donation deduction would be reduced from $2,500 to $2,000.

There are a few exceptions to these car donation tax deduction rules of thumb that are recognized by the IRS.

Car Donations: Significant Use & Material Improvements

If the charity significantly uses or materially improves the vehicle, they must certify that in the form of an acknowledgement to the donor (within 30 days of the contribution).

In the case of significant use or material improvement, the donor may usually deduct the vehicle’s market value ($4,000 in the example above).

To be considered “significant use”:

  1. An organization must use the vehicle to substantially further its regularly conducted activities.
     
  2. The recipient organization’s use of the vehicle:
  • must not be insignificant
  • must not be intended at the time of the donation

Significance also depends on the frequency and duration of use by the non-profit organization.
“Material improvement” includes major repairs or other improvements that significantly increase the vehicle’s value.

Cleaning the vehicle, minor repairs, and routine maintenance are not material improvements.

Make sure you don’t get misled by a car donation sales pitch claiming higher tax deductions than the IRS allows.

See IRS Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property ( PDF 101K)

Fundraising Ideas

Car Donation

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Fundraising Ideas

Six Fundraising Ideas For 2006

Need a new way to pump up this year’s fundraisers at your nonprofit? These six fundraising ideas will definitely maximize your results.

  • Auction off premium event seating
  • Grab Google Grants for publicity
  • Leverage eBay for donations
  • Swell your revenue stream with credit
  • Multiply donations with upfront requests
  • Explode your results by going OTT

Heard about the Minneapolis church that auctioned off their three front pews for the Christmas Eve service as part of their school fundraiser? The bids topped $6,000 or $1,000 a pew. Not bad for something that went for free most other places. Just imagine what you can get for the premium seats at your own events.

Are you hip to Google Grants? The world’s favorite search engine provides free advertising for registered 501c nonprofit groups. The Google Grants program is like Google’s pay-per-click AdWords program without having to pay for the clicks.  To be eligible, groups must have a website, non-profit 501(c)(3) status and not be religious or political in nature. Google picks new grantees every quarter. To apply for Google’s free advertising program, fill out an online application at https://google-for-nonprofits.appspot.com/application

Got eBay? Not in your fund raising plan? Then go to the world’s largest market place and sign up your nonprofit group for online donations. eBay Giving Works puts the power of the eBay Marketplace to work for nonprofit organizations. Anyone can sell items on eBay and donate part or the entire final sale price to your nonprofit organization. Donations from the sales of eBay Giving Works items will be collected and distributed to you, and tax receipts will be issued to the seller on your behalf. Find out more at http://givingworks.ebay.com/nonprofit/

Did you know credit is better than cash? Not only are people more likely to honor a pledge backed by a credit card than an ordinary phone pledge (100% to 70%), they are also much more willing to give more if you split the amount into smaller monthly pledges. Instead of asking for a $100 donation, ask for $10 a month. Make sure you set it up as a recurring billing where you can bill the monthly amount for periods up to 36 months. Find the monthly sweet spot of your donor base and explode your donations on autopilot.

Shy about asking directly for money? A small Illinois nonprofit held a fundraising dinner for their supporters and raised $6,000. They prominently placed a big donation jar at the registration table and raised an extra $18,000. Don’t be shy about asking for help and don’t be shy about making it as easy as possible for supporters to give financial support at any event. Just be upfront about your needs and give them high visibility.

Know the secret of OTT? Over the top is what you want your fundraising event to be, the must attend occasion topping the social calendar. Pull out all the stops to add glitz and glamour. Be sure to provide multiple attractions that encourage participants to join in the fun (and open their wallets) wherever possible. Silent auctions, live auctions, raffles, door prizes, entertainment, sponsorships, celebrity presenters, and glamorous settings work wonders by boosting turnout through free publicity and word of mouth. By going “over the top” with your fundraising event, you’ll magnify your donations mightily.

Put these fundraising ideas to work for your nonprofit group and make 2006 your best year ever.

Fundraising Ideas

2006 Fundraising Ideas