Allstate Car Donation Review

Allstate Car Donation

Don’t confuse the name of the Center for Living & Learning (CLL) fundraising arm, Allstate Car Donations, with the insurance company. The two aren’t related.

According to CLL, Allstate Car Donations passes on 100 percent of the proceeds of the sale of each vehicle to the organization. Now, I couldn’t verify this through other sources, and for a while it had me stumped: How can an intermediary organization do all of that work for free? And then it hit me: Basically, CLL and Allstate Car Donations are one and the same.

Allstate Car Donations is the business that CLL runs using the manpower of their paid apprentices, and the proceeds pay their salaries so that they can make money while learning extremely valuable skills doing it. Equally impressive is that whenever they can, CLL donates cash to other charities that work with at-risk youth and assist the recovery and assimilation of former criminals and drug addicts. It’s a perfect circle in so many ways it almost makes me weepy. Almost.


Helping People Put Their Lives Back Together

Although I’ve never been in prison or addicted to drugs, I can catch a glimmer of how difficult it must be for those who are previous offenders or recovering addicts to pick up the pieces. Numerous studies have shown that previous offenders and recovering addicts who are unemployed have a higher rate of recidivism or relapse, but these populations also have a much harder time finding employment due to one or a combination of factors, like a lack of education, experience, and/or self efficacy as well as negative employer attitudes toward drug abuse and criminal behavior. And yet an essential part of preventing relapse and recidivism is employment, which provides structure, promotes productive relationships, facilitates independence, and builds self-esteem.

Luckily, there are a number of nonprofit organizations whose mission is to help these populations gain the skills and confidence they need to find and maintain employment. One such organization is the Center for Living & Learning (CLL) in Van Nuys, California, which provides paid vocational apprenticeships to previous offenders, recovering addicts, and at-risk youth. Apprentices learn computer, customer service, and administrative skills, professional communication techniques, and appropriate workplace behaviors.

Established in 1993, CLL relies entirely on car donations to fund their program, which appears to be very effective. According to a BusinessWire article about CLL, 73 percent of participants found full-time employment in 2010.

Center for Living & Learning on Guidestar

Guidestar, a nonprofit organization that compiles information on every charity registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the IRS and disseminates it to the public, features 57 external, independent reviews of CLL. Every single reviewer awarded the organization 5 out of 5 stars.

Of course, reviews are always biased one way or the other, so I opened CLL’s IRS Form 990, which Guidestar makes accessible to anyone who sets up a free account. What I found was impressive. Charities are generally considered highly efficient if they spend 75 percent or more of their income on programming and less than 40 percent on administration and fundraising. A full 87 percent of CLL’s funds go toward programs, while just 10.5 percent goes toward administration and a mere 2.5 percent goes toward fundraising.

Speaking of Fundraising…

Car donations to charity are an increasingly popular way for individuals to support their favorite organizations. While some charities handle the car donations themselves, most use an intermediary organization, usually a commercial fundraising company, to take care of processing the donations from beginning to end, at which time the intermediary sends the charity a check for a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the vehicle.

Highly reputable middlemen keep 25 to 30 percent of the proceeds to cover their costs, fees, and commission, while *somewhat* reputable middlemen keep up to 50 percent. If the middleman keeps more than 50 percent, they’re either disreputable or straight out crooked, and they should be categorically avoided.

Any time you donate a car to charity, it’s essential to make sure the charity you choose is honest, effective, and efficient. If you’re not sure how to go about finding that information, I’ve laid it all out in an article entitled, What Is The Best Charity To Donate My Car To?

But equally important is the task of finding out whether the charity uses an intermediary organization, and if so, what percentage of the proceeds of the vehicle’s sale will actually make it into the hands of the charity. I haven’t written that article yet, but I will, because far too often, these organizations are complicated webs of various entities, and finding information about them on the Internet sometimes requires extreme investigative skills and a whole lot of time. But I will tell you this: if you’re having trouble finding information about how much the intermediary passes on to the charity, just call your chosen charity and ask. They usually have the information at hand, but if not, leave your name and number and ask them to find out. They’ll call you back, I promise. They need your money!

The Bottom Line on Allstate Car Donations

If you want to donate your car but have no particular charity in mind, consider donating to Allstate Car Donations. If you read the BusinessWire article I referenced above, you’ll see that this is an organization that’s often struggling to get the donations they need to keep fighting the good fight.

More Car Donation Reviews