Piano Finders

How to Donate a Piano or an Electronic/Digital Keyboard

How to Donate a Piano or Keyboard

Here are some suggestions for how to go about donating a piano or electronic/digital keyboard.

Other hints and suggestions:

The U.S. Government and individual states have given those who file tax returns certain benefits for supporting authorized public benefit organizations. When you donate a piano or keyboard 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 instrument. 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. If you think that you would like to donate a piano or keyboard, here are some suggestions as to how to go about doing it.

Establish a Fair Market Value

First of all, it is primarily up to you, not to the non-profit organization, to determine the value of the piano or keyboard you are donating. Basically, you need to know what you could sell the instrument for to a private party buyer. If you are claiming $5000.00 or less, then usually you don't need to hire an independent appraiser - you can declare the value yourself, -so long as you can justify your declared value to the IRS if ever questioned (e.g. by showing them classified ads in the paper or on the internet for similar pianos, etc.) If you are claiming over $5000.00, then you really need to have the piano appraised by an independent, third-party, appraiser, -one who is not party to either receiving the donation for the non-profit organization or in selling it for the non-profit organization. (See IRS instructions for specifics).

Where do you get the piano or keyboard appraised by an independent third party?

  • A piano technician
  • Piano Finders (when we are not involved in either the buying or reselling of the instrument for the non-profit who is accepting the donation)
  • A piano or keyboard salesperson (who is not involved in the buying or reselling of the instrument for the non-profit who is accepting the donation).
  • A personal property appraiser with a specialty in pianos.

As a piano or keyboard owner, you can sell an instrument directly out of your home and without a salesperson helping you, saving yourself any cost of goods sold expense. You could also sell it for a wholesale cost to a retailer who would then put it on a showroom floor and resell it for a retail price. Wholesale is usually significantly less than retail in the market.

What we call the "retail value" or "current market value" for a piano is usually the same as what the IRS calls "fair market value" for purposes of donation. Even though a dealer can claim a significant Cost of Goods Sold as the difference between retail and wholesale, a private party can sometimes sell a used piano or keyboard out of their home for the same retail price as a dealer can sell it out of a showroom if the item is in demand. So, usually the value you are looking for is the price you would expect to get from a private party who saw your piano or keyboard in the classified ads and bought it from you directly.

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Determine if a tax-deduction has value to you.

If you have donated items in the past, it is more likely you will have a good idea of whether a tax-deduction is valuable to you. If you already have too many tax-deductions, then one more would probably not be monetarily beneficial to you. If you prepare your own taxes, and they are simple, it is usually easy to determine whether a tax deduction has a monetary value to you. If you have an accountant prepare your taxes for you or your tax forms are complex it would probably be best consult your accountant about the benefit to you of a tax deduction.

Of course, there are always other reasons than monetary ones to donate a piano or keyboard to a charitable organization. You might want to see the instrument go to a good place where it will be used and appreciated. You might want to support the non-profit activities of the non-profit you are donating too. These and many other reasons are what support our society at the local level, bringing joy and benefit to many who might not otherwise have the opportunities that you can afford them with your thoughtfulness and willingness to give.

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Establish your donation criteria

You can usually make two different types of donations. One is a restricted donation, where you tell the non-profit organization exactly how they can or can't use the piano or keyboard. The other is a non-restricted donation where the non-profit organization decides how they should best use the instrument or whether to sell it or exchange it for resources the non-profit needs to function.

Restricted Donations.

An example of a restricted donation is if you were donating a piano or keyboard to a school, for the use of students at that school. If the non-profit organization already knows they want the instrument and that they can use it, then you can specify that the school is to use the instrument only for a specific purpose you have determined. But, if they know they want it for that purpose, there is no need to establish a restriction on the donation, because they will usually use it for the purpose that benefits the organization the most. And since instruments don't last forever, you may want to be careful about placing restrictions on a donation because it may limit them from making decisions that are best for them in the future, if the instrument does not continue to serve their needs.

Most non-profit organizations will not accept certain restricted donations, because the restrictions may later become liabilities for the organization as time passes and needs change. It is not always easy to find a non-profit organization who will accept piano and keyboard donations. If you add restrictions on top of the donation, you will have fewer choices as to who you can donate to.

Non-Restricted Donations.

A non-restricted donation is one where once you have passed the title of the piano or keyboard to the organization and it is up to them as to what they will do with it. If the non-profit organization does not need another piano or keyboard, or has no place to put one, it is likely they will sell it to help pay for the programs they are currently operating to benefit the public. These types of donations are the best for most non-profits.

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Determine your personal time and space limitations

You may have time and space limitations you need to take into consideration. For example, if the piano or keyboard needs to be moved out of its current location by a certain time, then this is an important factor in making your decision. If you are a busy person and cannot spend a lot of time looking for a non-profit who will accept your donation, then this is also a factor to consider.

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How can you help make it easier for the non-profit organization to accept your donation?

Non profit organizations are usually not in the business of buying and selling pianos or keyboards. And they often don't know how to handle instrument donations or if the piano or keyboard is even worth accepting as a donation. The bottom line for a non-profit organization is that they don't want to accept any donation that can become a liability for them. How can a piano or keyboard become a liability for a non-profit organization? Consider the following:

  1. You ask them to pay for the move of the piano, but when they go to sell it, the piano is worth less than the cost of the move.
  2. They don't have the space to store the piano or keyboard.
  3. They don't have the contacts to help them sell the piano or keyboard once it has been donated, and their staff is already overburdened and unable to devote the time to research a way to sell or utilize the donation.
  4. It needs rebuilding, refinishing or maintenance which will require an expenditure of cash on the part of the non-profit, in order to function properly and look presentable in a room.

In any of these instances, your donation may cause more problems than it is worth for the non-profit to receive the piano.

Here are a few tips:

Pay for the cost of the move. This expense is also tax-deductible for you.Find a third party who will pay for the cost of the move.

Call your local piano dealers and see you can find one who would be willing to pay a wholesale price for the piano and to pay for the cost of the move as well. If you can find a dealer who will buy and resell the piano for the non-profit, it is easier for the non-profit to accept the donation of the piano, because they don't have to handle the details of the transaction. The transaction works like this:

  1. The non-profit accepts the piano or keyboard donation and gives you a donation receipt.
  2. The dealer picks up the instrument(which now belongs to the non-profit organization) and pays the non-profit for the piano (usually a wholesale price) -according to the terms arranged.
  3. In some cases they will pay upon picking up the instrument, in some cases they will pay when the instrument is sold.
  4. The non-profit uses the money to benefit their charitable purposes.
  5. You receive the tax-deduction with very little hassle and time commitment on your part.

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How can Piano Finders help you donate your piano or keyboard?

Piano Finders sponsors a non-profit organization called Building Bridges and helps them receive piano and keyboard donations. Building Bridges sponsors numerous community outreach programs, such as bringing the arts and music to disadvantaged children. (More info on this at the Building Bridges website.)

When you donate your piano or electronic/digital keyboard to Building Bridges, Piano Finders will help you make the arrangements at no extra charge. This can save you a lot of time and effort. PianoFinders realizes that even trying to donate a possession to a charity or non-profit can take considerable time and effort, and so we have tried to make it as easy and painless for you as possible. We believe in making it easier for people to do good, not more difficult.

PianoFinders works closely with Building Bridges and other non-profits, taking care of those details of the piano donation that non-profits are usually not equipped to handle: Inspecting, assessing or appraising the piano or keyboard, moving, storing and/or brokering the piano for the nonprofit, and/or doing needed rebuilding or repairs so that the non-profit can either 1) use the instrument itself in its programs, or 2) sell the instrument to raise funds for its programs.

Piano Finders also works with other non-profits as well. If you are interested in donating a piano or keyboard, you can contact us at this email:


or call us (PianoFinders) at (925) 676-3355.

IRS filing requirements for piano and keyboard donations.

If your donation is worth over $5000.00, (i.e. $5000.01 or above) then you will probably need to file a Form 8283. Read the instructions for Form 8283 because in some cases you have to file this form for donations over $500. Here are some links to information on the filing requirements for the IRS:

  1. Form 8283
  2. Instructions for Form 8283

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