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How to Get a Donated Car From Goodwill (Quick Way)

Organizations/ Programs That Provide Free Infant Car Seats for Low Income Families

This article takes a deep dive into the question ‘How to Get a Donated Car from Goodwill’ while exploring the need and application process for the same as well as other organizations that extend a similar helping hand.

Introduction: How to Get a Donated Car From Goodwill


Cars were and still are considered a luxury by most people. Despite the economic standpoint of the statement being constant over the years, the practical one has evolved and made cars a necessity in the lives of people today. Goodwill car donation for low-income families and other needy groups is an incredible initiative which helps these people to create a remarkable difference in their lives.

So, what is The Goodwill Car Donation program? What are Goodwill car auctions? How to receive a donated vehicle? Are there any other organizations that have similar auto actions and aid as Goodwill car auctions? Let’s find out!

Need for Goodwill Cars and Goodwill Auto Auctions

Need for Goodwill Cars and Goodwill Auto Auctions

Cars, although expensive, are a good long-term investment which pays off with their versatile use over years, but they are still unaffordable to a huge fraction of our population. According to the data collected and analyzed by Kelly Blue Book, the average price of a new vehicle in The U.S. is about 42,248 dollars which comes to about 563 dollars a month as deposits.

This is extremely steep for people working for a minimum wage of about seven to eight dollars an hour while juggling many such low-profile positions of employment after cutting out the cost of basic utilities from their small income flow. This is where Goodwill cars and Goodwill auto auctions come into the picture.

Apart from the basic and routine use of vehicles, Goodwill cars also help these needy groups of people with work-related transport and also help a whole new realm of opportunities which may have been avoided earlier due to lack of locational proximity.

Certain employment opportunities like being a driver for a car aggregator or working as a delivery boy or girl for numerous organizations also become a possibility after obtaining a goodwill car. Car wrapping or displaying ads on your car can also get you some extra cash.

Goodwill, The Salvation Army and other organizations and charities identify the use of cars, the potential they have to change the lives of low-income individuals and try to bridge the gap between their economic condition and their dream of getting a vehicle through their programs by giving out cars under the name as seen by Goodwill in their Goodwill auto auctions and Goodwill cars.

While some organizations like Free Charity Cars give out vehicles for free or at incredibly low prices, Goodwill also hosts its popular Goodwill auto auctions where they sell donated vehicles at affordable rates while also running its Wheels for Work program where they provide Goodwill cars to the qualifying applicants for extremely low costs or even for free!

Similar programs can be observed in various other charities across the country. We will be focusing on Goodwill cars and Goodwill auto auctions first.

What is Goodwill

What is Goodwill

Before we dive into Goodwill car auctions and how to receive a donated vehicle through them, let’s first briefly discuss what Goodwill is.

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Goodwill charities are a branch of Goodwill industries which is an American non-profit 501 organization which has set out to help those facing barriers in their employment. Goodwill charities have various wings dedicated to various causes which include but are not limited to: thrift stores, food pantries, goodwill cars, etc.

They also run various programs and schemes in order to help the needy overcome their social, comical and political barriers. One such program is the Wheels to Work program which gives out transpiration services in the form of goodwill cars to people who need for work and can’t afford it.

Additionally, as mentioned, Goodwill also hosts auto auctions where they display goodwill cars for sale and are up for grabs for the last bidder. The last price of these donated goodwill cars, even after the bidding wars, are way cheaper than the market prices of the cars.

Goodwill and The Salvation Army both host TSA/ Goodwill auto auctions which are extremely similar in how they function.

Let’s understand a step-by-step process one can stick to in order to get a car from a TSA/ Goodwill auto auction:

Find Your Local/ Nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army Branch

Both Goodwill and The Salvation Army are widespread and popular charities and have their centers as well as volunteers spread across the country. To discover the center closest to you, you can visit their official website and go on to the list of centers and find the one closest to you.

Another option is to call on the number provided on their contact information and ask for direct assistance. You can even email them regarding the same and get information about their upcoming Goodwill auto auctions.

Keep Up-To-Date with Auctions

There are numerous Goodwill auto auctions happening throughout the country over the year. To ensure that you don’t miss out on ones that are convenient to you, make it a habit to go through the official websites of your chosen Goodwill center to ensure that you don’t miss out on an amazing opportunity. The same goes for The Salvation army auto auctions or any other auto auctions for that matter.

Sign Up for the Auction

Many Goodwill auto auctions require people to register beforehand to ensure an organized event and avoid overcrowding. Some but very few may even ask for a small registration charge for booking a seat. Get in touch with the organizers or the branch handling the auction and get the required details about the auction.

Come Early

It is always advisable to come to the event (TSA/Goodwill auto auction) early. Goodwill and The Salvation Army avoid revealing the vehicles which will be up for auction until the event itself. If you are early, you will have ample time to go through the display and find a vehicle which can fit your needs.

Buying a car, even a donated one i.e., a Goodwill car is a huge step. One should do the required research before the Goodwill auto auction and have a list of requirements that you expect the car to fulfil and only proceed to bid on one if you feel that there is a Goodwill car which is genuinely meant for you, if not it’s wiser to save up more and wait for another Goodwill auto auction rather than buying a car that one cannot reap the most out of.

Arrange Pick-Up

If your bid wins a vehicle at any Goodwill auto auction, the hardest part is behind you. The next step is paperwork and documentation which is ensured to be kept simple by these charities. You should be able to drive your new Goodwill car to home the same day as your auction!

It should be kept in mind that Goodwill auto auctions also display vehicles which aren’t fully functional and they go for very little money. People do bid on these cars in the hope of fixing them on their own. In these cases, the transportation of the vehicle may or may not be provided by the organizers. It should be kept in mind so that one can arrange a towing service before time as well.

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It should be duly noted that Goodwill auto auctions take place throughout the country and some of them do allow online bidders through their website. Applicants can go through the provided details of the vehicle on the site and bid online!

Wheels for Work

Wheels for Work

Auto auctions are one way to obtain cheap and affordable Goodwill cars. Another way is through their programs which include their Wheels for Work program. This incredibly helpful program is targeted toward low-income working individuals and families looking for aid in transportation which enables them to work.

How to Receive a Donated Vehicle from Goodwill

How to Receive a Donated Vehicle from Goodwill

The first step for any application should be checking the edibility criteria. It should be noted that the criteria for qualifying for a Goodwill car differ from state to state but some routine similarities can indeed be observed.

The first step should be getting in touch with your local DHS. DHS stands for Department of Human Services and they have a huge part in determining an applicant’s eligibility for obtaining a donated or Goodwill car.

Let’s take an in-depth look into the qualifications needed for qualifying for a goodwill car which are common for most centers.

Eligibility for a Goodwill Car

Eligibility for a Goodwill Car

As mentioned above, a social worker at your local DHS office ultimately determines your eligibility. The eligibility does vary for each Goodwill center but some things are common which include having a good driving record, a driver’s license which is up to date, etc.

Applicants go through a background check and are encouraged to have a stable job in which they have been working at for at least six months. You should have the proper documentation ready to back up any information you are claiming in your application for a Goodwill car.

These Goodwill cars are generally targeted towards the neediest groups of the society which include but are not limited to low-income families, low-income is defined as income below the standard national poverty level, senior citizens, single mothers, the unemployed, etc.

Usually, the application process takes about two to four weeks and you are contacted If you are chosen!

Why Should You Donate Your Vehicle to Goodwill Car Auctions

Why Should You Donate Your Vehicle to Goodwill Car Auctions

Helping each other is the basic distinguishing feature of human beings. The population that falls in the low-income strata of our population live an incredibly difficult life.

Donating your vehicle as a Goodwill car or any other charity has the potential to change lives. We have discussed the impact and use of a car on a person’s life. Apart from the moral reason, there is also a financial reason one should keep in mind while debating whether to donate one’s vehicle.

This financial benefit isn’t in the form of direct cash but as tax benefits. Donating your car as a Goodwill car gives the donor various tax benefits. A considerable deduction is granted to the generous donors of Goodwill cars.

There are various charities which help people donating their cars and handle all the required technicalities for the ease of the donor. One such example is Jerry’s auto salvage in New York which ensures the easy donation of cars and ensures that the donors are not getting scammed out of their noble intentions.

It should be kept in mind that you must have a copy of the title before the process of your car’s donation starts. It is also wise to determine the fair market price value of your car beforehand to get a vague idea of the number-figure of the deduction you are expected to get. You need to get Form 1098-C and read IRS Publication 78 next. It is best to get the detailed information regarding the same from the Goodwill center itself.

The IRS does provide detailed information regarding the rules for car donations. It is crucial to note that the tax benefits are applicable only if the donation exceeds the standard deduction decided by them. You can save hundreds of dollars through this process! Some centers provide a pickup service while some don’t. The donor should always keep the yellow copy of the donation form for documentation purposes.

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Other Charities Providing Similar Help

Other Charities Providing Similar Help

There are numerous charities which also help in providing help in transportation services. Some even give out free cars just like Goodwill cars! While some of these are open to everyone, others are streamlined and focused on certain needy groups.

Free Charity cars, 1-800-charity and Habitat for Humanity are examples of some non-government non-profit organizations which give out free and affordable cars to people in need.

Other organizations are more focused on certain groups. For instance, VeteranCarDonations.org has a section dedicated as “Vehicles for Vets”. Some similar organizations that extend their services to vets alone are VetCars, carsforvets.org, cars4heroes.org, etc. These can be best understood as Goodwill cars which are reserved for certain groups.

Additional Things to Keep in Mind

Additional Things to Keep in Mind

If you are applying for these Goodwill auto auctions and donated Goodwill cars, you can take use of the tips discussed here. Social media is a great tool today and can be used in more than one way in situations like this. One can and should try to get in touch with someone online who has undergone the process of obtaining a goodwill vehicle.

He/She can assist you regarding the entire process which may seem daunting at times. Another way to get funds is through social media donations. You can get in touch with any NGO or local non-profit and they will help you tell your story and set up your donation fund online. If your story is genuine and circulated well, you are bound to get at least some sort of financial help.

When in need, one should open every door provided for any and all help. This method is not as simple as filing for a Goodwill auto auction or filing for a Goodwill car but is still a viable option which has the potential to help.

Another crucial thing to keep in mind is that these charities work on limited budgets and availability plays a huge role in the allocation of these Goodwill cars.

So, signing up ahead of time, waitlisting your name on various lists and keeping a regular check on your applications is a wise move. Most of your applications are bound to face a lot of competition but one should not lose hope, keep applying and have patience as help tends to find the needy, sooner or late.

Frequently Asked Questions


Some frequently asked questions about ‘How to Get a Donated Car from Goodwill’ have been answered below:

Are Goodwill Cars Donated by the Government?

Even though some Goodwill centers are indeed linked to the government, most donations for Goodwill cars are private.

Do the Donors of Goodwill Cars Receive Any Financial Benefits?

Yes, donors of Goodwill cars actually receive financial benefits in the form of tax benefits, under terms and conditions which can prove to be a huge financial help to them as well.

Can I Only Take Part in One Goodwill Auto Auction?

There are no such criteria for the attendance of auto auctions but it should be kept in mind that many Goodwill auto auctions and programs are strictly focused on the needy and can reject your application or bid if your paperwork reflects that you already own a vehicle in your name. This is done to ensure that these Goodwill cars, which are limited, go into the hands of those who need them the most.

Is Goodwill Focused on a Particular Social Group?

No, Goodwill does not confine its aid to any one social group but is open to all the needy. So, everyone facing financial adversity can check the eligibility criteria and apply for Goodwill cars.

How to Get a Car That Was Donated Through Goodwill?

There are two ways to get a donated car from goodwill, one is through their Goodwill auto auctions and the other through their programs like Wheels for Work. It is ideal that one applies to all the places one passes the eligibility for to ensure that the chances of actually receiving a Goodwill car are maximized.

The Article Comes to an End

Our country is battling poverty and financial competition to such a great extent that it is the financially lower class which are bearing the repercussions of it. Goodwill cars are a great opportunity for them to get the facilities which could only dream of before.

We all should try to give back to our community and help people the way we would want to receive help in our time of need.

Omari Mertz

Omari Mertz

Omari Mertz is our social media head and he is tasked with managing our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram handles. He is responsible for creating and posting content, monitoring and responding to comments and questions, and analyzing our social media metrics.

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