Tomchei Tzedakah: Support Meshulachim Who Follow Guidelines


tomchei-tzedakah-of-lakewoodThe following was sent to by Tomchei Tzedakah of Lakewood:

You look at a meshulach’s ishur from Tomchei Tzedakah and it has stamped in red letters: “This meshulach may be using an unapproved driver.” You wonder, “What is that supposed to mean?”

Since its inception, Tomchei Tzedakah has had two objectives: 1) Support meshulachim and their efforts, and 2) to make sure that the tzedakah funds of the Lakewood community goes to true tzedakah needs.

Since Lakewood is a large city, most meshulachim cannot go around on their own, which requires them to use drivers. The drivers in Lakewood (and in other cities) often drive 3+ meshulachim at a time and take one-third of what the meshulachim collect. There are many perspectives on this:

-Most Rabbonim feel the drivers are taking too much and it is an inappropriate use of tzedakah funds.

-Drivers feel that they work hard, spend years learning routes, houses, who is home when, etc. and deserve to be paid well.

-Many meshulachim feel they overpay the drivers but, because the drivers have banded together, they have no choice but to give up a third of what they collect, while some meshulachim feel that 1/3 is reasonable.

-Many nadvanim feel too large a percentage of their donations are going to drivers. Some have even stopped answering their doors to meshulachim and this is their #1 reason for doing so. Other nadvanim understand the drivers’ position and do not seem to mind the current arrangement.

It is important to note that, unlike other cities and unlike the way it was in Lakewood in years past, the current drivers residing in Lakewood are shomrei torah u’mitzvos. However, we cannot vouch for any of the drivers that come from outside of Lakewood.

At the suggestion of Reb Shlome Miller and our Rabbinical board shlit’a, Tomchei Tzedakah has asked the drivers to sign an agreement that they will not take more than
33% if they are driving one meshulach, 25% if they are driving two meshulachim or 20% if they are driving three meshulachim, and that they will never take more than three meshulachim at a time.

To date, only two drivers have signed. Our preference is that all the drivers sign to the above. However, instead of forcing meshulachim to use “approved drivers” we intend to make the process transparent and leave the decision to you, the nadvan. Every meshulach is now being asked to sign an agreement that he will only use Tomchei Tzedakah-approved drivers who have agreed to the terms above. Those meshulachim that prefer to use the drivers that have not signed may do so, but now nadvanim will see the red stamp that the meshulach may be using an unapproved driver and can make an informed decision.

Due to this stamp (and perhaps due to a 2nd stamp – that the ishur is not to be used during birchas krias shma), some meshulachim may stop showing their ishur or may fold them over so that the stamps cannot be seen. If this issue is important to you, please do not hesitate to ask meshulachim to show their ishur – we have advised them to expect it.

If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to email us at or call us at 732-367-7770.

Please give chizuk to the drivers and meshulachim that are cooperating with these new guidelines.

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  1. Great idea although 1/3 is way to much for the drivers. There has got to be a way we can give the Meshulachim money without those guys sticking their hands into the poor peoles pockets!

  2. This whole system is wacko!

    Are we such a delinquent society that we need regulations on every little issue? Do we need a Vaad telling us how much to spend on Aliyahs and which shuls are not complying with regulations? Is someone going to start telling me who to file my taxes with and how much my accountant deserves?

    Red stamps on letters? Background checks? Let us just live!

  3. Am I wrong, but how can we blame the meshulachim if their driver won’t sign? Why should he lose out on much needed donations because his driver won’t listen to rules??

  4. Please let me understand this?? The driver gets 33% so a $100 donation is reduced to $66. Nowhere in the above article does it state how much the meshulach takes for himself. If the meshulach takes 50% (which sounds ridiculous but so I’ve heard) that subtracts $50 from the $66. This means that of your $100 donation only $16 goes to the needy??? Sorry but something is wrong with this system.

  5. “a 2nd stamp – that the ishur is not to be used during birchas krias shma”
    I am thrilled that this issue is finally being addressed – this is an
    issue which applies universally – Halevai ALL similar organisations would take this on board.
    My question, however, is.. Why do you stop at just bircas keri’as shma?!
    What about any other part of davening?
    I feel it a Chilul Hashem (not to mention the personal disturbance)
    that people should be allowed to saunter into minyan aftyer minyan and
    take advantage of catching their captive victims while they (should
    be) concentrating on Tefila. Why should anyone be allowed to disrupt
    ANY part of davening?

    Please enlighten me.

  6. There’s a Vaad becuase too many people don’t ask their Rov or don’t have a Rov at all. So something that used to be in a Rov’s power in the good old days is now passed onto a Vaad.

  7. Whenever I have the good fortune to have a meshulach come to my office and present me with the opportunity to do a mitzvah without leaving my chair, I ask a question right before writing a check. Most ask for it to be written to our local tzedaka organization (similar to Tzedakah V’chesed, TTL, etc). But since it is not for me to monitor this whole unfortunate but necessary process, I ask the meshulach to whom do I write the check. If they give me their name, ask for cash, a different organization, I happily comply.
    The mitzvah remains, and there is a greater chance of $ getting to where it is needed.
    Now, it can be argued this subverts or ruins the system, and while that may be true, if this were to be modeled out to the point of completely deflating the system, then the natural order will create a fairer system (just like free markets) that will represent a better balance, if one can be achieved.

  8. I have begun to give significantly less tzedaka to meshulachim (and more to mosdos, aniyei hair and talmidei chachomim) because of the drivers. They made my life miserable at work, home and davening. It got so bad that more than a dozen meshulachim would come to my office while I was holdings meetings with clients — one at a time, of course — every day.

    It was a living nightmare, with each one showings copies of checks I gave it out in the past years.

    So I give each one five dollars now.

    Those drivers are evil, contemptible people. They should get a job and stop mooching off of everyone and adding so much misery into everyone’s lives.