Airplane for non-profit

2 Replies

Airplane for non-profit

Posted by Damon Whitlow on Apr 10, 2019 6:25 pm

Our non-profit is trying to acquire a small airplane for the use of teen ministry and a human trafficking prevention program. Can anyone give me some guidance on the best way to pursue this endeavor?
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Re: Airplane for non-profit

Posted by Ronald Levy on Apr 11, 2019 9:21 am

Not sure what your question is.  Are you trying to learn how to shop for and purchase an airplane?  Are you looking for a donated airplane?  What sort of airplane are you looking for ("small airplane" isn't particularly descriptive)?

Re: Airplane for non-profit

Posted by Ronald Herold on Apr 15, 2019 9:44 am


You will need to find someone who wants to donate an aircraft to your organization.  I would suggest you first specify the mission so that you can decide upon what 'type' of aircraft you need.  Simple specifications include range, load and number of engines.  Remember - you have to maintain the aircraft after the donation and a twin is a lot more cost to operate and maintain.  You can advertise for such a donation and network for it.  Once you find that person - they will want a tax deduction for the donation. 

This is where it gets tricky.  If the aircraft is valued at/over $5,000 they will need an appraisal by someone who is qualified (both to appraise and meets the IRS requirements).  I have done numerous of these appraisals and I have a couple cautions I would like to convey.  First the donor may ask you for a certain value for the donation.  Don't even think that way!  I have correspondence from organizations asking me to make a certain value in the appraisal.  This is not only unethical but wrong.  An appraiser gives the fair market value and asking for a certain number is just not done.  This is correspondence that if 'captured' by the IRS might make your tax exempt status questionable.   I have had requests for donations to be valued at 2 to 3 times the market otherwise the donor won't donate.  I don't do those types of appraisals and neither will any other legitimate appraiser.  Another 'catch' is a donor who has operated the aircraft in a business fashion and has fully depreciated the aircraft.  They then want to donate it and take a tax write off.  If the aircraft is already written off to zero - what is their basis to take the write-off?  Please have your donor check with his accountant before starting down this path.  Finally, I would comment that in my case I charge significantly more for a donation appraisal.  The reason is simple.  I have to sign the IRS form 8283 which is submitted as part of the donor's tax return for the donor to get an appraisal.  It shouldn't surprise anyone that when you open yourself up by signing a form to the IRS - you might charge a little more.

There are many charitable organizations seeking aircraft.  If your organization receives that donation - make sure you do it correctly.  


Ron Herold
-Ronald L. Herold, Ph.D., NSCA, MEII
Senior Certified Aircraft Appraiser
USPAP Qualified
Sustaining Member – Lawyer-Pilots Bar Association
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AOPA Lifetime Member
(703) 573-2222

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