Review of

Indiana Defensive Driving Courses

3 Star Rating

It always seems like when it comes to vehicle donation organization names, whenever there’s a number standing in for a word, it’s a sign that the organization is about as good at supporting charitable causes as it is at spelling.

That’s more or less the case with, although this organization is way more transparent than most and it’s pretty obvious that they have good intentions but lack the expertise to carry out their mission efficiently.

The About Us section of immediately makes it clear where your money is going, and it’s going to Activated Ministries, a nonprofit Christian organization that works to improve the quality of life for those in need around the world, including its own missionaries, most of whom are unpaid volunteers scoring big-time brownie points with the Great Charitable Giver in the Sky.

Activated Ministries

Activated Ministries is a humanitarian and spiritual organization that provides scholarships to children of current and former missionaries and runs a number of programs that include orphan Christmas camps in Africa, English teaching camps in Thailand, and building houses and schools in Uganda through volunteer missionary labor.

Some of the cars donated through end up in Activated Ministries’ Cars2Care program, which provides low-income individuals – particularly returning missionaries – with working vehicles. The other cars are sold at auction, and all of the net proceeds (the sale price of the car minus direct expenses) go to fund programming.

Activated Ministries on Guidestar

Guidestar is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to make it easy for the general public to evaluate the vast number of charities that operate in the U.S. as 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporations. Guidestar compiles financial and other information each charity, including its IRS Form 990, which is what nonprofits file with the IRS every April 15.

Section IX of Form 990 breaks down the organization’s expenses for the fiscal year into three categories:

  • Programming includes the programs and services the charity provides to directly impact the lives of others in accordance with their mission statement.
  • Management (or administration) includes salaries, rent, utilities, and other overhead costs associated with conducting business.
  • Fundraising includes all of the expenses incurred in an attempt to convince people to part with their cash and goods to benefit the cause.

Charities are considered to be highly efficient if they put at least 75 percent of their funds toward programming, with the remaining 25 percent covering administrative and fundraising costs.

According to their 2013 Form 990, Activated Ministries brought in $3,082,405 that year and passed along $1,070,973 to their various programs. That amount accounts for just 35 percent of their expenses, which is highly inefficient. Only 15 percent was put into administrative costs, which is a good indicator of their lofty intentions, since that means that salaries are probably in line with what they should be and that they work to keep overhead expenses down. But the remaining 50 percent went toward fundraising. That’s a sign that Activated Ministries needs to figure out a better, more cost-effective way to raise funds.

The Bottom Line for

Here’s the thing. There are few different types of car donation entities, and falls into the category that I like to call “the arm,” which means that the vehicle donation program in question is the vehicle donation arm of a single charity, and the proceeds go to support that charity.

Some inefficient “charities” are really just a front for making a few people super-duper rich, while others have good intentions for bettering humanity but just can’t seem to get the ratio of fundraising costs to donations received quite right.

I’m pretty sure Activated Ministries falls into the latter category. Fundraising is expensive, but there are a lot of charities that do it efficiently while still raising millions of dollars for their cause.

So if you want to donate to Activated Ministries because you have a vested interest in that organization and want to support them, go ahead and donate your car. But just know that if your car sells for $500, only about $175 of that money will get to Uganda or Thailand or wherever. Half, or $250, will go toward trying to get more donations. Only $75 will be used for overhead expenses, meaning that at the very least, Activated Ministries buys cheap toilet paper and turns off all of the lights at the end of the day. has received our 3 star rating which is our average rating, however, if our rating was based on transparency alone they would receive a 5 start rating.

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