Laws of Tzedakah

  1. A person should be very careful not to allow tzedakah funds
    to get mixed up with his own money. If a person finds money in his house and
    is in doubt whether it is tzedakah or not, the poskim disagree on the din, but
    clearly, but letzait y’day shamayim a person is required to give it
    to tzedakah.

  2. Expenses incurred in collecting tzedakah may be taken from
    the tzedakah collected. The cost of those expenses is, itself, considered
    tzedakah. A person who collects tzedakah is permitted to receive a portion of
    the funds he collects according to the agreement he reaches with the
    management of the institution for which he is collecting. But person who is
    collecting independently, or the director of an institution who raises funds
    should consult with a Rav to establish the amount he may keep for himself. In
    this way he avoids suspicion of stealing, for not everyone is capable of
    determining for himself if he is permitted to receive a portion of the funds
    and how much of it he may keep for himself. I any case, the percentage cannot
    be very great, for the donor did not have in mind that he should retain a
    large percentage of the tzedakah he gave for himself.

  3. A person who keeps a percentage of the tzedakah he collects
    is considered a shomer sacher and is obligated to cover any losses
    resulting from theft or loss of the funds he collected. If he doesn’t keep a
    percentage for himself, but benefits from he money he collected by using the
    cash, he is also considered a shomer sacher. Even if he does not
    benefit from the funds he collects in any way, the poskim are not in accord on
    his status and some hold that he is, nevertheless, responsible for tzedakah he
    collected as a shomer sacher. But all agree that a person who is not as
    a careful as he should be to keep the tzedakah he collected safe is obligated
    to cover an losses that result from theft or loss.

  4. If money is collected for a specific poor person and more
    is collected than is required, the funds remaining belong to that person. The
    poskim discuss at length how to handle tzedakah that was collected under the
    mistaken assumption that funds were required.

  5. Those who collect tzedakah should be careful to distribute
    it immediately to those for whom it was collected, even if it was not
    collected explicitly for immediate distribution. It is forbidden for the
    person to collected it to hold it. He must distribute at the first
    opportunity. According to the Shulchan Aruch, a person who collects tzedakah
    may not borrow it for his own use even when it cannot be distributed for some
    time. Nevertheless, it is now commonly accepted as permissible.

  6. If a person sets apart eighteen or some multiple of
    eighteen monetary units of tzedakah, he may add to it without losing the
    benefit of the segula of the number eighteen, for eighteen is included in
    whatever number results from the amount he adds. Similarly, a person can add
    to the two candles that we light on Shabbos, one representing shemor
    and one representing zachor candles, without losing the symbolic value
    of the two candles.

  7. If a person puts money aside from which he intends to give
    tzedakah on Purim, and some of it is left over after Purim, is he allowed to
    use it, or must it be given to tzedakah? If he set the money aside intending
    to give it as tzedakah, then it remains tzedakah, for both in thought and deed
    he had designated the money for tzedakah. But if set it aside with the idea of
    simply having money available from which he could give tzedakah, i.e., in
    setting it aside, he did not have in mind that he was designating it all for
    tzedakah, then he may use what is left over for any purpose.