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Fundraising: How To Deal With Hard-To-Sell Donations

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Hello, my Fabulous Fundraisers!

I want to share a little story with you about... an RV. An almost-new RV that has been generously offered to your organization, and you have NO idea what to do with it.

You do have your annual auction coming up. But would anyone BID on an RV? What if nobody wants it right now? It’s a nice RV and a really nice offer, but BEFORE you say yes, let’s take a closer look at how to make the most of this situation.


We have ALL been there, someone DONATES something, but we just will NOT be able to SELL it to our donor base. Like this RV. You might be considering just adding it to your auction.

But not so fast.

  • What is the LIABILITY for this item?

  • Will you need to carry INSURANCE

  • Do you need to be holding the TITLE?

  • What if you need to STORE it somewhere?

  • Do you have the resources and staff to manage this item PROPERLY?

  • What LEGAL compliance issues may come up when you’re raffling a donated, used RV?


Even in a best case scenario, dealing with all these details will take YOU much more time than it would take the OWNER to do themselves, and in my experience, all of that time spent is RARELY worth it.

SO, my recommendation would be to THANK the donor for their generosity, and let them know that the BEST thing they can do to HELP would be to follow 1 of these 3 suggestions for selling the vehicle THEMSELVES and then write you a CHECK for the proceeds.

Option 1. FSBO, For Sale By Owner

In this scenario you have to find a spot near a busy street to park it with a for sale sign on it.

This may take a while depending on who on that street is looking to purchase an RV. Best of luck, we hope it’s speedy.

Option 2. Sell it through a car donation program

Check to see if you already have a vehicle donation program ESTABLISHED for your organization.

If not, there may be a program in your area that your nonprofit can PARTNER with, so then your donor can make the gift THROUGH them and YOU still get the check.

Option 3. Sell it at an auto auction LIVE or ONLINE

In general, auto auctions WILL get you the maximum amount for an item. Even after any fees you will end up with the most you can make.

And auto auctioneers will have buyers who are EAGER to purchase even before you pick up the phone to call.

Auto auctions are set up to handle hundreds of these transactions, so you don’t have to worry about any of the liabilities that come with selling a vehicle that may or may not be a lemon.


Don’t get me wrong...

It is super-dooper generous for a donor to offer you their vehicle, but before you accept, it’s ok to let them know how you’d like them to handle it. Most often, they only want to help and will be very understanding.

No matter which option they choose, you should ALWAYS suggest that they consult with their tax advisor on what’s best, and YOU should always consult legal counsel on behalf of your nonprofit BEFORE you accept this kind of donation.

That way you can be sure you are setting your organization up for success and avoiding unnecessary headaches.

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