Piano Finders

How to Donate a Piano

About the Piano Donation Project

The Piano Donation Project is a service provided by Piano Finders for its clients, that places pianos with the non-profit organizations we sponsor, to benefit music schools and communities across the contiguous United States.

How do I get started?

The Piano Donation Project is sponsored by Piano Finders. We can help you if you have a quality grand piano to donate. We also consider newer uprights in good condition. You will need to know the brand of your piano, whether it is a grand and upright before you contact us. Call 925-202-2229 to begin the process. We do not accept upright pianos older than 20 years old, or grands that do not have a brand name marking.

Do you accept organs, keyboards or other instruments?

The piano donation project specializes in acoustic pianos. We do accept acoustic pianos that have player piano mechanisms, but we do not accept piano keyboards or organs.

Where do you accept pianos from?

We accept pianos from the 48 contiguous United States. We do not accept pianos from the islands or other countries at this time.

More Information

Establish a fair market value.
Determine if a tax-deduction has value to you.
Establish your donation criteria.
Determine your personal time and space limitations
How you can help make it easy for a non-profit organization?
IRS filing requirements for piano and keyboard donations.

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 an instrument for to a private party buyer. If the instrument is worth less than $5000, then you don't need to hire an appraiser to value it for you or submit an IRS 8283 form. If you are claiming more than $5000, then the appraiser giving you a value for the instrument should not be a party who is involved in 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 certified member of the American Society of Appraisers
  • Piano Finders, when the piano needs a more comprehensive report to establish the justification for its value for a specific purpose.

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, you will usually have a ballpark sense 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 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 you can help make it easy 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 becomes a liability for them.

How can a piano 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 a space to store the piano or keyboard. Or they do have space, but need it for other things.
  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 cost the non-profit cash investment, 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.

Pay a technician or rebuilder to put the piano into good working condition so it can be used productively by pianists that learn and perform on it before you donate it.

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How can Piano Finders help you donate your grand piano?

Piano Finders can place many pianos through our Piano Donation Project. Our goal is to place your piano in such a way that it finds a good home, is played and appreciated and kept in good repair. The Piano Donation Project experts can determine if your piano is a good fit for our program. It helps if you call us before you get into an urgent situation.

Call 800-236-4460 to speak to our receptionist. If you already know the brand of your piano, the serial number, size and how soon you need to have the piano moved, this will help speed up the process. There are some instructions about finding the brand and measuring your piano's size and other piano donation details on our Piano Donation Knowledge Base at 925-588-7740.

IRS filing requirements for piano and keyboard donations.

If your donation is worth over $5000, 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. You can find the current 8283 forms at IRS.gov

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