Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Donation Business


Generally I have nothing against fundraising if it is for the right person. Due to the worldwide financial crisis many institutions which have so far relied on donations / funds suddenly have to take care of themselves. Find more donors or think more public relation. If you are rich and don't know what to do with your money, there are plenty of opportunities to help. Chesed organizations or Rabbi Mordechai Machlis, for instance. The latter organizes Shabbatot at his house in Jerusalem and I have been trying to do some advertising for him because he is honest in his doings.

The problem with fundraising is always that there are people working for someone else (raising the funds) who also want to get paid. Hardly anyone is doing that kind of job as a volunteer because everyone needs an income. However, when you are an institution or a Rabbi looking for donations, those people working with you ask for their share. Usually a firm percentage of the donation amount.
Let's say you donate 100 Dollar to someone, then the fundraiser receives a commission. Thus, the person who actually needs the money gets less due to the fundraiser's commission. The question is if this is fair. Other people working for people in need talking their own share ?

Within the past months I have been making some advertising for chesed institutions / rabbis in need of money. I only do this for honest organizations but I have had the experience lately, that more and more companies / fundraisers involved try to cheat. Let's say an institution in need of funds orders a company to do some commercials or send out PR letters. This is how it usually works but what is bothering me, and I am very much disgusted by that, is that those connected companies suddenly start sending out donation letters as well. And not only that but especially to those donors donating to the person they are working for. The companies claim in their newsletters that all of this would be on behalf of the person they are working for but this is a lie. The marketing companies' only goal is to get money into their own pockets by using their customer who is actually paying them for sending out his advertising.

As soon as I am making fundraising advertising for a private person, I am receiving e - mails from people who are connected to this person because they all want their share. I would rather wish that the money I am donating is going directly to the person in need and not to some greedy middleman who is living on the expenses of the person in need.

It looks to me as if today some people are too lazy to work and thus start looking for donation victims. "I organize your donations and you pay me 10%".
Maybe this is the way it works today but I am just wondering if such parasites are not ashamed of themselves. And don't send me any more e - mails asking for help on behalf of a needy but move your behind and look for a job !


  1. Fundraising specifically, and monetary manners generally, are a big embarrassment to the chareidi world, I think because they eschew higher education and are thus relegated to financial struggle. Just look at Spinka, Deal, and now perhaps Holyland. And Aish haTorah is a scandal just waiting to happen that could make the aforementioned look minor in comparison.

  2. B"H

    There actually are haredi groups which just accept donations from "Shomrei Shabbat" and not just from anyone.

    However, years ago, AISH even empolyed Bill Clinton to make advertising for them.

  3. There are many legitimate organizations and needs. The question is getting the word out and getting people to listen. Often the problem is that the organizations that spend huge $$ on PR and Branding also benefit from large donations. Tikva cares for more than a thousand Jewish orphans from Odessa (in Odessa and Israel) and can't doesn't get funding from gov't or major organizations.. They have orphanages, schools and even a Jewish University. it's all real and totally amazingly moving. It would be interesting for someone to do an expose on organizations and the work they are really doing and make it available to donors. Donors are so inundated by everyone, but it's very frustrating when you see kids who have nowhere else to turn to for help - not their families and not anyone, but it is so hard to get the international Jewish community to step forward with donations because it's not one of the major organizations. Tikva desperately needs the help of the Jewish people. Check it out - This is a chance to save Jewish lives as well as their neshamos, so you would think everyone would want to participate where and how they can.

  4. I would like to say that I know Rabbi Mordechai Machlis and his family for many years. He is the first and maybe the only person I have met who gives everything he has to others. His home is open 24/7, all year. The only time he closes his door is for Pesach when he goes away with his family. He has 14 children and as many grandchildren and they all are apart of he great chesed. After all these years I am still amazed. But right now they are suffering. Each week he tries to find the funds to make shabbat meals for all who come to his door. He needs help, and I strongly encourage anyone who wishes to donate to consider this amazing family.

  5. B"H

    Rabbi Machlis is an honest person and does need donations. Now more than ever because he is doing a real Mitzvah providing Shabbatot.

    Unfortunately, I have to say, some people making advertising for him, use his situation when they charge a certain percentage. Such a thing should never happen ! Either I seriously intend to help, and I have done lots of advertising for him (FOR FREE, by the way) or I leave it. I am not taking advantage of a great Rabbi such as Rabbi Machlis !