The Salvation Army is well known worldwide for its humanitarian and social services, and in fact, it’s one of the largest social service providers in the world. Most of us have found something we needed in a Salvation Army Thrift Store or called for a pickup for that old couch we finally replaced. And we’re all familiar with the bell ringers at Christmas time, with their red kettles full of change.
The Salvation Army accepts donations of just about every kind of household item you can imagine, from clothing and dishes to furniture and bedding. They also accept vehicle donations, of course. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be writing this.
Advancing the Christian Religion
Founded in 1865, The Salvation Army is an evangelical movement whose doctrine follows that of the mainstream Christian religion.
Their mission is to spread the gospel and alleviate human suffering, but perhaps what we know them best for is their tireless work to better the lives of those living in poverty or with an addiction as well as their services for veterans and helping to locate missing family members.
The Salvation Army also provides prison ministries, elderly services, hunger relief, camps and recreation for at-risk youth, and works to eliminate human trafficking.
The Salvation Army on Guidestar
Any time you’re considering donating goods, services, time, or money to charity, it’s a good idea to save yourself some potential heartache and do some research on the charity to ensure they’re legitimate and efficient.
Efficient charities are those that put 75 percent or more of their revenue back into their programs, with the remaining 25 percent split between administrative and fundraising costs.
Finding out this information is a piece of cake through Guidestar, a nonprofit organization that compiles financial and other information on every single charity registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. You can peruse the charity’s IRS Form 990, look at its financials, view board member information, and get external perspectives on the impact of the charity.
According to Part IX of their 2013 IRS Form 990, The Salvation Army is a highly efficient charity. In 2013:
- Total expenses were $18,072,423.
- 94 percent, or over $16 million, was put toward programming.
- Just 5 percent went toward administrative costs.
- A paltry 1 percent went toward fundraising.
The Salvation Army’s Vehicle Donation Program
Most charities use a third-party intermediary organization to handle their vehicle donations because nonprofits typically don’t have the manpower or financial resources to do it themselves. Sometimes, the intermediary is a reputable and decent commercial or nonprofit organization that passes on the bulk of the net proceeds to the charity, but others are either highly inefficient or downright slimy and will pocket as much as 90 percent of the net proceeds, leaving the charity with pennies on the dollar. Here’s how all of that breaks down:
- Highly satisfactory intermediaries pass on 75 percent or more of the net proceeds to the charity.
- Moderately satisfactory intermediaries pass on 60 to 74 percent of the net proceeds.
- Somewhat unsatisfactory intermediaries pass on 50 to 59 percent of the net proceeds.
- Completely unsatisfactory intermediaries pass on less than 50 percent of the net proceeds to the charity.
But guess what? The Salvation Army doesn’t use an intermediary! They do it all themselves! Just like they tool around town in their famous trucks picking up your castoff household goods, they apparently do the same with your vehicle.
This information wasn’t on their website, so I put in a call to the organization. According to Burt, The Salvation Army itself comes and picks up your car, takes it to auction, sells it, pays the auction house their share, and keeps 100 percent of the net proceeds.
That’s a highly efficient way for a highly efficient charity to process car donations!
The Bottom Line for The Salvation Army’s Vehicle Donation Program
If you’re a fan of The Salvation Army (and who isn’t?), feel absolutely free to donate your car to them. They handle all of the donation details themselves, and they get to keep all of the net proceeds instead of 75 percent (likely considerably less) which is what they would get if they had to pay intermediary fees.