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Driving Home the Dollars

Shelters Raise Funds with Used-Vehicle Donations

Shelters Raise Funds with Used-Vehicle Donations

Used-vehicle donation programs are turning clunkers into cash for animal shelters across the country. Donors are able to unload used vehicles while receiving valuable tax deductions, and shelters need only facilitate the sale of the vehicles and pocket the profit. The program has proven to be a highly profitable venture that doesn't require a lot of time and effort.

Several West Coast shelters have contracted with Nationwide Auction, a professional auction company that handles all the logistical details. Shelters simply provide donors with a tax receipt and Nationwide does the rest—picking up donated vehicles at the shelter, repairing and cleaning them, and delivering them to auction. Shelters receive the full purchase price and the buyer pays Nationwide a ten-percent service fee on top of the purchase price.

In Englewood, Florida, the Suncoast Humane Society partners with local automobile dealerships that take possession of vehicles and transport them to auction. According to Debra Parsons-Drake, executive director, the shelter plans to use the funds generated from used-vehicle donations toward the purchase of a new mobile adoption and emergency transport vehicle.

Dennis Gosewisch, a volunteer for the Anne Arundel County SPCA in Maryland, runs the entire used-vehicle donation program on his own. He picks up vehicles from donors' residences, cleans them up, repairs them, places "For Sale" ads in the local paper, and negotiates the final sale. In 1997, his efforts paid off to the tune of $40,000 for the SPCA.

Regardless of whether shelters partner with a dealership or contract with an auction company, they can ensure a smooth ride by doing their homework first. Assign a staff member to make sure the auction company is legitimate, and to oversee the program and make sure it complies with local laws. Taking the time to develop a solid used-car donation program can really pay off. Drake estimates her shelter took in more than $10,000 from used vehicles alone last year. "Every little bit helps,"she says." If five thousand dollars falls in your lap, it's worth the effort. You're getting proceeds without expending staff time. It's been a nice little chunk of change from heaven."


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