How to Donate a Car in California

How to Donate a Car in California

Donating your car in California is a wonderful way to support charitable causes while also benefiting from potential tax deductions.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of donating a car in California, provide essential tips, and recommend some reputable charities that accept car donations.


Step 1: Choose a Charity


Before you donate your car, it’s crucial to select a charity that resonates with your values and mission.


In California, there are numerous charities that accept car donations, including Goodwill Car Donations, Vehicles For Veterans, Wheels For Wishes, and Breathe California.


Ensure the charity you choose is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to make your donation tax-deductible.


Step 2: Research the Charity


Once you’ve identified a charity, take the time to research it. Verify its reputation and authenticity by checking its website or contacting the California Attorney General’s Office to confirm its registration in the state. This step ensures your donation is going to a trustworthy organization.


Step 3: Contact the Charity


Contact your selected charity to commence the donation procedure.. Most charities simplify this step by offering online forms on their websites. Expect the charity to inquire about your car’s make, model, year, and condition.


Step 4: Prepare Your Car


Before donating your car, give it a thorough cleaning and remove all personal belongings. Cancel your car insurance, and ensure you have the car’s title ready for the donation.


Step 5: Schedule a Pickup or Tow


Most charities in California offer free pickup or towing services for your convenience. Schedule a pickup or tow at a time that suits you, and be prepared to provide the car’s title and registration to the charity representative.


Step 6: Sign the Title Over


When the charity comes to pick up your car, you’ll be required to transfer the title to them. It’s essential to keep a copy of the signed title for your records.


Step 7: Receive a Tax Receipt


After donating your car, the charity will issue you a tax receipt. This receipt is a crucial document for claiming a tax deduction on your next tax return.


Additional Tips:


  • Verify 501(c)(3) Status: Ensure the charity you donate to is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to make your donation tax-deductible.


  • Get a Written Receipt: Always request a written receipt for your donation. Keep a copy for your tax records.


  • Car Not Running: Some charities accept non-running cars, but you may need to cover towing expenses.




Donating a car in California is a generous way to contribute to charitable causes and potentially reduce your tax liability.

By following the steps outlined in this guide and conducting thorough research, you can make a meaningful donation to a reputable charity of your choice.