Tzedakah Postscript

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5 Responses

  1. ja says:

    Do you have addresses (or even better, urls) for the tzedakas you recommend? thanks.

    [Ed. – Glad you mentioned that.
    Keren Y&Y https://www.kerenyehoshuavyisroel.com/keren/families/index.cfm

    Yad Eliezer http://www.yadeliezer.org/site/home.php

    Tzidkas Yosef Naftoli does not have a website. Their US mailing address is Tzidkas Yosef Naftoli c/o Wesel 5121 17th Ave. Brooklyn NY 11204 Tax ID# 11-2746017]

  2. arnie draiman says:

    very good article. my mentor is danny siegel (www.dannysiegel.com) and he has for more than 35 years been teaching people the halachot relating to giving tzedakah.

    nothing is as important as making your tzedakah shekels be used in as an efficient and effective manner. for an organization to be run inefficiently (by paying too much rent, high salaries, too much for fund raising, etc.) or to be run ineffectively (by not serving the population that they say they are serving or not accomplishing various goals, etc.) is basically stealing from the very poor people your tzedakah money is intended for. (see “al tigzol dal, kee dal hu” – mishlei 22:22 and the various comments on it, paticularly bamidbar rabba 5:2)

    you can see danny’s list of his top 100 mitzvah heroes (those good people doing good work, and doing it efficiently and effectively) at: http://www.ziv.org (in the annual reports section).

    one caveat i would point out is that a four star rating on guidestar or charitynavigator does NOT mean it is a four-star efficient tzedakah org. this is particularly true when researching an israeli organization, because you really only see the ‘american friends of’ on the usa 990 form. you still need to look at the annual financial report (it is public record in the usa and in israel) for the local israeli organization which they file yearly with the non-profit registrar.

    i am happy to discuss this further with anyone interested!

    arnie draiman
    soosim @ netmedia.net.il

  3. Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz says:

    I think that is why the plastic cards given out by Rabbi Heinemann in Baltimore are so respected even in other communities. He checks each person and makes sure that people are legitimate and have a real need. The Agudah also provides scrip to use for the tzedaka so that a person can buy a significant amount and distribute as needed. This scrip is purchased with a 20% surcharge. The person redeeming the script gets the face value and the surcharge is distributed to local mosdos. That way giving to tzedaka does not cause local needs to be neglected.

    As a practical matter, a person purchasing the scrip can buy adequate ammounts by check and have records for his Maaser calculations as well as for the IRS. Additionally, it makes sure that a person will always have something available to give the person collecting tzedaka as well as helping to ensure that the person collecting is indeed honest.

  4. Bob Miller says:

    When we lived in Oak Park, MI, that community also had a system for sizing up tzedaka collectors and giving them credentials.

  5. Yochanan says:

    Another useful resource is http://www.guidestar.com, which with a free membership signup, provides access to the tax returns of those not-for-profits that file them.

    Houses of worship don’t need to file so, unfortunately, many organizations organize as shuls and don’t file. (You can imagine the conversation when I check a meshulach’s organization on line and then ask when and where Shachris is.) I find myself increasingly resentful of my responsibility to let them know that this prevents me from giving more than a token “kol haposheis es yado” amount.

    Generally, I find that the message that I can’t give if your tzedaka isn’t a 501(c)(3), because that reduces the total amount of money ending up in tzedakah, has already been absorbed in the meshulach community. As you write, the message that I want open books before giving real money, has not, and is generally taken as a rude sign of distrust.

    From a perspective of my middos, I suppose it is a good thing if my itemized donations list reflects a very large number of very small donations. I suspect it is not the best thing from the perspective of maximizing the impact for aniyim.

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