Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

How should a non-profit go about asking for a vehicle donation?

I am the alumni adviser for my fraternity at my alma mater, and, as our chapter expands, we are looking to get ourselves an official vehicle for the fraternity. While the idea of an old bus has been kicked around, I suggested against this, even though there is a massive “cool” factor to the idea, due to added maintenance, lack of available parts, special licensing, things like that. The next best thing would probably be a “people-mover” passenger van. These things are normally on a 3/4 ton chassis, can sit 10+, won’t take a CDL to drive, and you can easily find a trailer to tow behind it if you are moving goods or supplies in addition to people. The only thing I don’t know is, would be HOW to go about looking/asking for someone to donate us one. Since we’re non-profit, anything donated to us is a tax write-off for the person or organization doing the donating.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?


Contact the local dealers and alum is about all you can do. Just being deductible doesn’t mean it won’t cost money and people are pretty cost conscious these days. Personally, I cringe when I see churches and others using large passenger vans and buses due to the risk if there is an accident. More than once has a whole group been wiped out when the van and bus crashes and everyone is killed. The same reason why corporations do not allow their whole management team to be on the same plane. The risk of loss is just too high. In college we lost the whole debate team from a small plane crash.

“Since we’re non-profit, anything donated to us is a tax write-off for the person or organization doing the donating.”

I think that this is dependant upon the doner’s tax situation. Not everyone would qualify.

Rather then look for a single donations, contact as many alumni of your fraternity as possible and have a “bus drive” to raise funds. Go to local dealers and see what they are willing to contribute in the line of reduced prices. Even of you can get it wholesale it might be worthwhile. Asking one person to donate the funds may be a little too much but involving all alumni is certainly doable.

Good point @davidL And I believe that just being a non-profit is not necessarily deductible.

A fraternity is not a charity, so you won’t get anmy tax deductions.

And, if given the choice of donating a vehicle to…let’s say…St. Jude’s Hospital for Children, or to a college fraternity, I think you know which one I–and most other people–would choose.

Truthfully, I think that the only folks who would be foolish enough willing to donate a vehicle to a college fraternity would be older guys who are former active members of that fraternity. And, if you approach those old frat guys after they have imbibed a few…adult beverages…they will probably be more willing to throw away donate a vehicle to your group.


I’m lucky. I get few calls for donations or request from my fraternity. It was closed for good at the college I attended for disciplinary reasons a few years after I graduated. The parties were outstanding, the friends made memorable and the benefits of not being hounded for years after for contributions is appreciated. I would have gladly participated in a “drive for a new van”…but would not have trusted any of the members to “drive the new van”.

Nice try but most college fraternity people are from families with some means or else you guys might do a few car washes for extra money. I was a GDI (see Urban Dictionary) and am pleased that one of the guys who I knew in my particular dormatory house recently donated a new building to my school.

You will have better luck finding one or more fraternity alumni to put the money up and buy the van. Make sure you check out insurance before you buy anything. Given that the driver is likely to be under 23, it could be expensive. I would look at a 12 passenger GMC, Chevrolet, Ford, or Dodge that is about 8 years old. It should cost between $6000 to $7000 (private sale/dealer).

Also, search for the information on line. I did a short search and found that if a donation is used for charitable and educational purposes only, it is deductible. Check on line to see exactly what that means. I would think that if a fraternity used their van for charitable purposes, like transporting low income children to educational events, it might qualify.

I like the idea of monetary donations to buy the vehicle you’d like/need.

Think of it this way…
By the time someone’s old van is junky/old enough for them to concede to donating it instead of selling it…would YOU even want the dang thing in that condition ? ?

can you spell m-o-n-e-y p-i-t ?
You’ll easily waste MORE money fixing it right than just buying one already right.

The liability for a frat to own and use a van would seem to be great. Why not just hire a pro van service the few times a year it’s needed?

Well going back to the title question,

How should a non-profit go about asking for a vehicle donation?

You could always try a really novel approach. Tell people what you want to accomplish and ask if they are willing to donate to help make it happen.

It would be interesting to know what an insurance agent is thinking when presented with the scenario of a college fraternity insuring a large van or bus.
My first thought would be “party bus” and “accident waiting to happen” even if that were not the case.

As to obtaining a large van, why not consider the purchase of a used van from a local church and have said purchase funded by members of the fraternity.

From my Church’s experience the Insurance Companies feel better about 12 passenger vans than 15 (they had to remove one of the benches from their '90 or therabouts Ford Van. Back when they bought the van from Budget the policy was any member over the age of 21 could drive but normally only certain people would drive. Would be a question for an insurance agent. My church sold their van a year ago due to age and decided to just call the rental car place down the hill when they need to. These vans aren’t that cheap to fuel and maintain.