Car Donation Programs Assisting Low-Income Families In Need

Transportation is a necessity, especially for low- income families in areas where public transportation is non- existent or employment opportunities are located outside of their geographic area. For many, transportation is the deciding factor on attaining and keeping a job that will help them establish economic well- being. For families that struggle financially, attaining a form of transportation can seem impossible. Many are dealing with a lack of employment which makes it hard to secure the necessary finances to purchase a vehicle, without which they are unable to secure employment. For those families that have a form of income, many are unable to afford the additional monthly payments associated with car purchasing in addition to their established expenses. Enter the often times life- saving car donation programs scattered across the country.

These non- profits make it possible for families to attain the independence associated with car ownership as well as the ability to find and maintain employment through the generosity of others. While the goal for these programs is the same- make car ownership affordable for all families, each program varies in the donation and application processes as well as the services offered.

In General

Families that are able to, can donate their unwanted vehicles, often as a tax deductible contribution, to the charity of their choice. Most charities will agree to pick up vehicles from donors or cover all costs associated with the delivery of the car. These charities will either require the vehicle to be in working condition prior to donation, many often will inspect the car to ensure this. Others will accept any car and depending on the severity of the problem, repair the car in house or cover the cost of the repairs. If a car is beyond repair or the cost of repairing it is deemed too high, these charities will sell the car and use the proceeds to cover other expenses. Each charity is dedicated to making a quality car available to its applicants and will often perform a series of inspections on donations before making them available. Once the car is checked, serviced and ready to be given to a new family, charities will deliberate on the receiving family. Some charities match the car to the family, this insures that a family of four doesn’t receive a two seater car or an individual doesn’t receive a full sized SUV. Other programs will do a first come first serve basis donation in which they offer the car to the qualifying applicants as they are received, while others will allow the applicants to choose their car from the available inventory.

Other Services

Many car donation programs offer a variety of services depending on the needs of the low- income families applying. Some programs will offer help securing low interest loans for families that have a form of income or donate a car to them out right if no income is available within the household. Programs often times will have free financial and credit counseling services available to help educate buyers on debt and credit management strategies.


Car donation programs will require proof that a family is of low- income status. Applications are a standard for all non- profits and must be completed before a family can be considered to receive a car; each application is specific to the charity. Some may require that a family prove that the donation will be used for employment purposes. Oftentimes families will be required to prove employment status or that recipients have a job lined up. Many organizations will require proof of driver’s license within the state the applicant lives in, as well as proof of insurance. Many will also require the completion of a background check and exclude any applicants that have been charged with a DUI or DWI. Purchase of tags, taxes and titles associated with the vehicle is a responsibility given to the recipient usually. Families that are receiving government or local aid may be disqualified from continuing to receive these funds and should check with their provider.

Life Changing

Car ownership offers financial opportunity and independence for low- income families. In short, owning transportation is life changing for financially restricted families.

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