Californians donate more cars than the people from any other state, and San Diego leads the list for top vehicle donation cities in California. While there are certainly plenty of great charities that accept cars nationwide, if you live in San Diego or Orange County you may want to help people closer to home, in your own city. Here's a list of charities either based in San Diego or devoted to San Diego that also accept auto donations.
All the charities listed on this page are 501(c)(3) certified by the IRS. That means that you can make a tax-deductible donation to them. Of course, tax deductions are very complex and everyone's situation is unique so you should check with your CPA or tax preparer before you actually file the paperwork for your tax deduction with the IRS. There were some new IRS rules for car donations set up in 2005, and while a car donation can still give you a good tax deduction, the IRS scrutinizes vehicle donation tax deductions more than they used to. You can learn a lot more about the specifics of the car donation rules by downloading a free pdf version of IRS Publication 4303: A Donor's Guide To Car Donations from the IRS website.
The San Diego charities listed here have also all been reviewed by the website Charity Navigator. This is an internationally recognized website that rates charities based on a star system of one to four stars. All the charities listed here have gotten the top rating of four stars. This means you can be sure that your donation is going to a charity that is a highly effective and uses every dime that they get in the best possible way.
San Diego Humane Society and SPCA
If you are an animal lover, this may be where you want your car to go. The good news is that your car does not even have to run for the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA to take it, and they will also handle every step of the process for your car donation, from pickup and towing to filling out the IRS forms for you. Their car donation program is run through Charitable Auto ResourceS (CARS).
American Melanoma Foundation
The AMF is a member of the National Council On Skin Cancer Prevention, but their focus is on funding research to treat melanoma and other kinds of skin cancer, and on creating programs that raise awareness about proper sun protection and early detection of skin cancers. They have a lot of programs for children, but they also have some highly regarded support programs for people who already have the disease.
Cal-Diego Paralyzed Veterans Association
This charity supports Armed Forces Veterans and others who have suffered from a spinal injury or a spinal disease like multiple sclerosis. You can donate your car to them through either Donate Car USA or Action Donation Services. Both of those companies are nationally run car donation houses that will sell your car at auction and donate the proceeds of the sale to Cal-Diego PVA.