Who Gives Donated Vehicles to the Poor?

Individuals living in poverty often have trouble obtaining vehicles. Public transportation can be costly and inconvenient. Some organizations and financial institutions, recognizing that difficulty finding reliable, affordable transportation adds to the burden of poverty, have instituted programs aimed at helping the poor obtain vehicles. Others focus on using proceeds from the sale of donated vehicles to aid the poor.


Goodwill agencies have different uses for donated cars. Some use donated vehicles as part of Goodwill’s Wheels-to-Work program, which assists individuals who need reliable transportation in order to keep their jobs. Others sell donated vehicles, and use the proceeds for job training and career programs for the disabled and disadvantaged.

Ways to Work

According to its website, Ways to Work “provides small, short-term, low-interest loans to working poor families with challenging credit histories.” Many of these loans are used to obtain a vehicle. Low-income individuals must have at least one dependent child in order to be eligible for the program. The program aims to help poor families not only obtain a vehicle, but also restructure spending habits.

According to a Fox News story, “Loan recipients must construct a family budget, working with a counselor who tells them whether they're eligible for food stamps or child care reimbursement and encourages them to cut out expenses such as mobile phones and cable television.”

Catholic Charities

Details vary from diocese to diocese, but most branches of Catholic Charities have car donation programs. For example, the Catholic Charities in Omaha, Nebraska, offers a Cars for Kids program. Donations support Catholic Charities programs that impact children and their families, such as adoption and pregnancy counseling, domestic violence support, addiction recovery services and daycare, preschool and summer camp programs.

St. Vincent de Paul Society

A number of St. Vincent de Paul Councils throughout the country accept donated vehicles and use the proceeds to help local families facing poverty. The website for the Portland, Oregon, council promises to “turn your vehicle donation into food to feed a family in need.”

Donate Car USA

DonateCarUSA.com enables individuals to choose to donate a vehicle to one of more than 300 not-for-profit charities. To donate, call the 800 number listed on the website, or fill out an online donation form. The site claims that, “When you pledge your automobile donation, the Vehicle Donation Processing Center…handles all of the documents, vehicle donation pick up, charity auction sale and distribution of the proceeds to the charity. 50 percent of net proceeds from each vehicle donation go to the charity selected by the donor. ”