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How to Donate Your Piano

The piano can offer years of joy, creativity and entertainment for any family. But somehow, either because you’ve bought a new one or just can’t see yourself ever tickling the ivories, you want to give your piano away to someone who would truly enjoy it.

“There are many wonderful options for those who would like to donate their instrument,” says Don Dillon, director of the National Piano Foundation. “If you have a ‘used but usable’ piano you’d like to find a good home for but don’t have anyone specific in mind, check first in your own backyard.”

Call the local school district, college, private music school, private dance studio, nursing homes, senior centers or preschool to find out if their programs can use a piano. You may also want to check with a service club such as the VFW, American Legion, or Lions Club. And don’t forget to check even closer to home: there may be someone in your family, a child’s friend, or someone you know at work who could put the instrument to good use.

One important responsibility you have if you’re donating your instrument to a non-profit organization, such as a school, is assessing its condition and establishing a “fair market value.” Donating a less-than-perfect piano is a nice thing to do, even if it needs some repair to be useful, so long as your recipient knows what he or she is getting into. Don’t saddle someone with an unusable instrument just to get it out of the house. To be on the safe (and honest) side, as well as to claim the donation on your taxes, you should have a professional assess the value of your instrument. A piano technician, salesperson, or personal property appraiser with a specialty in pianos would be able to help you.

“When you donate a piano to a qualified non-profit organization, you may be able to receive an actual deduction in your income taxes equal to the full fair market value of the piano,” explains Karen Lile, president of PianoFinders.com. “For those of you who pay taxes, this means you get to keep that money, or get a return on money you have already paid.”

A third step you should take is to establish your donation criteria. There are two types of donations you can make: restricted and non-restricted. A restricted donation is where you tell the non-profit organization how they can or can’t use the piano. For instance, you may want to donate your piano to a school’s music department, to be used specifically for students. In a non-restricted donation, the non-profit group decides how it should best use the piano. This includes selling or exchanging it for the resources it needs.

Finally, you should think about your own schedule. “If the piano needs to be moved out of its current location by a certain time, then this is an important factor in making your decision,” says Lile.

Once you’ve found a place to donate your piano, it’s a good idea to take a moment to consider the needs of the organization you are donating to.

“The bottom line for a non-profit organization is that it doesn’t want to accept any donation that becomes a liability,” adds Lile. If the cost of moving a piano exceeds the fair market value of the instrument, the donation will create a liability. One way you can make it easy for the non-profit to accept your donation is to pay for the cost of the move. This expense is also tax-deductible.

Even if you’re not eager for a lot of publicity or kudos, make it a point to meet the people who will be receiving the piano. Make sure they know all about how to give a piano a good home, i.e. keeping it away from windows, temperature changes, humidity, etc. Plus, it will make you feel great to know the good it’s doing.