California’s state capital has a wide range of charities that have made a good record for themselves. The ones that accept cars and other vehicles as donations are listed here. These charities are all listed on Charity Navigator, so you can know they’ve been independently reviewed. They are also all 501(c)(3) certified under US Federal Tax law, so your donation to them is tax deductible.
The Sacramento Zoo
+1 (833) 866-7869
The Zoo accepts cars, trucks, boats, RVs and trailers. They can pick up vehicles in all 50 US states and are able to take vehicles that are running or not. To donate, you’ll need to have the title of the vehicle in your possession. To schedule the free pickup towing you should call the number above and give them the location of the vehicle you want to donate, along with your mailing address, the license number of the vehicle, plus the VIN number and the year, make and model. The Sacramento Zoo will sell your car at auction, which means it is likely your tax deduction will only be $500. If your vehicle sells for more than that at auction, they will mail you a postcard showing what your car sold for. Keep that postcard for your tax return. The Sacramento Zoo has earned a four star review from Charity Navigator, which is the highest rating that website gives to charities. It is earned for effectiveness and keeping overhead costs (namely fundraising and executive pay) to the barest minimum.
The SPCA takes cars, trucks, boats and RVs. They have earned a four star rating from Charity Navigator. They do their vehicle donations through DonateLocal.com, which is a Northern California car donation company that processes car donations for charities. This has pros and cons. The benefits are that you’ll be working with a donation house that knows exactly how the process works and what needs to happen — its a regular assembly line process. DonateLocal handles all the Department of Motor Vehicles issues, including smog compliance, and they’re California based, so they know exactly what they’re doing. The con is that probably the most you’ll get for your donation is a $500 tax deduction. That’s because they will sell the car (or truck, boat, etc) at an auction, liqudating it, instead of giving to directly to a real person to use as their car. If you can find a charity that will actually use your car or give it to a needy person to use, then you can sometimes deduct the full Kelly Blue Book value of it.
Sacramento Loaves & Fishes
+1 (833) 866-7869
They do not have a car donation program, and do not say that they accept vehicles on their site, but this homeless shelter and food pantry might be able to take your car as a special donation. It would have to be in reasonable condition — a junk car would probably be no good to them. Loaves and Fishes has earned a three star review from Charity Navigator.