You know, it’s really refreshing to visit a vehicle donation website and find that the organization is transparent as cellophane, and Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program is about as transparent as they come. This organization provides vehicle donation services to help fund all of your favorite public radio and television stations that soothe you with classical and roots music, inform you about what’s really going on out there in the great wide world, and provide excellent children’s programming that lets you plant your kid in front of the TV without guilt so that you can take a long, hot shower in peace.
Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program claims to run the most efficient car donation program, and they claim to pay out a high percentage of proceeds to the station of your choosing. But then again, all car donation organizations all say that, every single last one of them, every single time.
But what most don’t do is lay out for you exactly how their process works, who they partner with, and how much of the net or gross proceeds they send along to the charities. On average, Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program passes along 63 percent of the gross proceeds to the radio stations. That’s a pretty good average.
Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program also tells us up front that the program is run by Vehicle Donation to Any Charity, LLC (better known as V-DAC,) and that they use Advanced Remarketing Services, a nationally licensed commercial fundraising organization and vehicle dealer, to handle the title processing and vehicle sale.
As An Intermediary Should Be
Commercial fundraising organizations (CFRs) that “handle” car donations for charities under names like “Karz4Klutzes” and “Vehicles for Vandals” (yes, I made those up!) are sometimes extremely difficult to track down. You really have to dig deep to find the identity of the CFR behind the vehicle donation program and to glean an idea of how much of the proceeds they pass on, because the car donation websites seem to make it as hard as possible for you to find out this information: you have to look under a lot of rocks and run into a lot of brick walls to find little slivers of information that you must then piece together to try to deduce some kind of lineage and form some sort of judgment.
But sometimes, you find a CFR that lays it all out there for you and even links you to information about their company in government publications or reputable charity watchdog websites, and prominently posts the names of management staff whom you can contact by phone or email with questions.
Advanced Remarketing Services is one such organization, and it’s one that consistently passes on a high percentage of the net proceeds of the sales of donated vehicles to charity. As a reference, passing on any amount over 75 percent is considered highly satisfactory. Between 60 to 74 percent is merely satisfactory, between 50 and 59 percent is not really very satisfactory at all, and if it’s below 50 percent, we’re talking about anything from an outright vehicle donation scam to extremely poor management and severe, self-serving abuse of the system.
From the Horse’s Mouth: Car Donation Bigwigs Tell Us a Thing or Two About Donating a Car
Joe Hearn is the president of Advanced Remarketing Services. Hearn and Mark Jones, who oversees the business end of the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program, and Deb Blakely, who handles the marketing aspect, recently headed down to NPR for an interview about car donations with Click and Clack the Tappit Brothers, a.k.a. Tom and Ray Magliozzi, the stars of NPR’s highly entertaining talk show, Car Talk. I’ve been listening to Car Talk for years and years, and was saddened by the recent loss of Tom Magliozzi, who died in 2014 from complications from Alzheimer’s.
Car Talk asked the visitors how you know you’re working with a reputable company when it comes to car donation programs. Deb stressed that knowing what percentage of the gross proceeds go to charity is the most important thing. “We look for a number around 50 percent to indicate that a program is being run reasonably efficiently.”
Tom and Ray wanted to know how much of the proceeds the Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program sends along to the stations. Mark explained that that amount varies widely by geographical area and the price of scrap steel, but said, “Our long term average is about 60 percent of the gross, or 70 percent of the net proceeds.” This translates to $300 to $400 per vehicle on average.
When asked about the best car to donate for the highest benefit, Advanced Remarketing Services president Joe responded that ideally, the car should be less than 12 years old and in reasonable condition. To get the highest possible revenue, ARS puts the car out to bid in their network of buyers in the wholesale used car market.
I discussed Advanced Remarketing Services at length recently in my glowing review for Habitat for Humanity’s Homes for Cars program.
Review of Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program
Remember, Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program is operated by Vehicle Donation to Any Charity, or V-DAC.
V-DAC is crystal clear and up front about how they deduct the costs and fees from the proceeds of a vehicle’s sale. “We believe the entire vehicle donation process should be transparent,” they state on their website, and indeed, they break it all down for you right there on their site, which is almost unheard of.
The average cost per vehicle for transportation and auction costs is $114, and for the title transfer, tax receipt, and DMV fees, it’s about $50 per vehicle, on average. Once the car sells, those costs and fees are deducted from the gross proceeds, and what’s left is the net. From the net, V-DAC takes 25 to 30 percent for management and administration fees and passes on the rest to the charity, meaning the charity typically gets 70 to 75 percent of the net proceeds, or 42 to 70 percent of the gross proceeds.
Bottom Line for Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program
That old car languishing behind your shed could help fund programming at your favorite public radio or TV station. By all means, dig it out and donate it through Car Talk Vehicle Donation Program, a highly transparent, well-trusted organization that chooses its affiliates wisely. You can rest assured that the equally transparent intermediaries will pass on a fair share to your chosen recipient.