Car Talk: Inside a Vehicle Donation Program

Today’s article was written by Concordia Chief Development Officer Scott Koskoski. The Foundation Office is responsible for all fundraising efforts, which includes annual giving, planned giving, corporate giving, fundraising events and more. Enjoy!

A few years ago, when a doctor surprised my wife Melissa and me by announcing (when Melissa was 22 weeks pregnant!) that we’d soon be parents of not one new addition but twins, I had the same first thought as most males in that situation would have:

Oh no – our small car is going to be one seatbelt short after these twins get here.

I needed to enlarge the family ride, but first it meant getting rid of Old Faithful – my beloved 2001 Honda Civic. Baby blue with tan interior, she’d been with me through seemingly everything – well, at least everything since grad school. I was the second owner after a wonderful elderly woman who had only driven it 6,600 miles in three years. If it was feeling neglected, I rectified that situation, throwing an average of over 20,000 miles on it per year. Oh, the stories that car could tell.

Either because I felt too lucky to own that car, or, because I’m a fundraiser for a living, I wanted to transfer my blessing to a worthy cause. So, I decided to donate my beloved Civic instead of sell or trade it. Upon hearing this idea, my wife, now more surprised than we were at the doctor’s office (and now wanting to call a doctor to examine me), initially hesitated.

But we called a favorite charity, learned they worked with a trusted car donation provider and, two phone calls later, made the last ride with Old Faithful down to the charity’s parking lot and kissed her goodbye. A little paperwork and a few weeks later, I received a gift receipt showing an impressive donation amount after my charity had sold the car for money to fund its valuable programs. Everybody won!

Since then, I’ve worked at organizations that have car donation programs and often said the words, “It’s simple!” when referring to vehicle donation. And you know what?  It IS simple! I know this for a fact. When you add all the donated cars together, it creates an incredible income source that makes a wonderful impact. That’s what I see, every day, that a donor might not. It matters.

I’m proud to let you know that Concordia Lutheran Ministries recently launched our own Vehicle Donation Program through our trusted friends at Cars Helping Charities, an organization I have worked with before that has the highest reputation for integrity and quality in their work with faith-based nonprofits. When a resident, patient, family or community member donates a vehicle to Concordia, they can rest assured knowing that Concordia will receive, on average, the highest cash value possible for the car you’ve departed with.

In 2010, nearly 1.3 million Americans listed a vehicle donation on their itemized income tax deductions. The top three reasons Americans donate their wheels? “I’m feeling charitable” tops the list, followed by “I’m too lazy to sell it” and “I can really use the tax write-off.”

Whatever the reason, a car doesn’t need to be a classic in mint condition to donate it. The car I gave could’ve probably driven the Pennsylvania Turnpike from memory!

Now, thanks to Concordia’s Vehicle Donation Program, anybody can easily provide an unwanted, unneeded or unrepaired car to Concordia, receive tax and donation credit as Concordia liquidates the vehicle AND know that these valuable funds are being used to advance Concordia’s mission of providing high-quality, faith-based care across our network. Of course, like any other gift, you can designate your support to a specific fund – such as our Good Samaritan Endowment Fund, which provides charitable care to residents who have outlived their resources.

To learn more and get started, check out our online vehicle donation page here. For more information on other ways to contribute to Concordia’s mission of faith-based care, visit or call the Foundation office at 724-352-1571, ext. 8291. You can also e-mail us at

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