As the year winds down, many people start thinking about donating their car to a good cause. Doing so helps ensure you can get a tax writeoff in the year to come. Some 700,000 vehicles get donated to charitable organizations throughout the United States annually, according to one consumer law group’s data.

If you’re thinking of replacing your car or truck, giving it to a charity can be an altruistic move that has practical benefits for the donor, as well. And making it happen through proper channels may be easier than you think!

However, acting too hastily can cause a well-intentioned donor to miss a couple important steps. First, be sure your documents are in order. Then, you may need to do a bit of homework, starting with this practical advice:

Research Your Options

Most people want to know they are supporting a good cause when they make donations. This requires doing a bit of homework on the group or organization taking them. For instance, you can ask if one hundred percent of the proceeds go toward the donation you are making.

The Federal Trade Commission provides several recommendations for looking up unknown charities on online navigators. When you look up a name, you can find information on a number of factors that will help you make an informed decision:

Consider Donating Your Car to Habitat for Humanity

The benefit of donating to a global organization like Habitat for Humanity is that it saves you some of the digging you might do on a less-known charity. This nonprofit has nearly four decades of experience providing help for people who lack decent housing.

Did you know they also take car donations? The donation of a vehicle to Habitat for Humanity is a great way to support local families who need your help. Car donations help raise millions of dollars each year for struggling families. All you have to do is fill out a vehicle donation form providing some basic information about your vehicle.

The steps for making a donation are simple:

  1. Provide your information
  2. Submit your donation
  3. Arrange for a free pickup
  4. Receive a tax receipt

That tax receipt helps lower the taxes that donors owe at tax time.

Determine You’re Giving to a Legitimate Charitable Organization

If you’re not familiar with the charitable organization, make sure the place you’re giving to is a legitimate organization before handing your ride over. Here are some signs you can trust a charity offering to take that old car off your hands:

  1. It’s an established name in your community.
  2. It’s an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
  3. It is registered at the state or federal level.
  4. It has a long track record of providing good services.
  5. A search through a charity navigator turns up positive results.

Being designated as a 501(c)(3) lets donors know that their donations will be tax deductible. The organization should provide some form of receipt that can be used toward your deductions when you file your taxes.

Consider a Recycling Center or Junk Car Donation Program

Another option is to donate your clunker to your local recycling plant or other junk car donation program. Such places typically provide cash or tax deductions for used vehicles. Look for a place that bases its cash amounts on the Kelley Blue Book value. You can still feel good knowing you’re following a practice that has environmental benefits.

Get Help with New Car Title, License Registration and Stickers at CFSC Auto Services

Whether or not you’re donating your vehicle, CFSC Auto Services in Illinois and Wisconsin provides many helpful services to ensure you’re driving legally and avoiding financial penalties. This includes:

  1. License plate services
  2. Replacing stickers
  3. License plates transfers
  4. Other auto-related services

Stop by your nearest CFSC location for help managing your auto-related needs today.