Laws Pertaining to Giving and Collecting Tzedakah

  1. Every Jewish community is obligated to appoint people to
    collect from each member of the community the tzedaka which it is fitting
    that he should give. The people who are appointed should be known in the
    community and considered honest and reliable. We have never heard of a
    Jewish community that did not have a tzedakah fund.

  2. Once a person accepts the responsibility of collecting
    tzadaka for the community and begins involving himself in the concerns of
    the poor, he cannot withdraw from the mitzvah.

  3. Funds which are collected for one tzedaka may not be
    dispersed to a different tzedaka. Tzedaka must be given to the person or
    dedicated to the purpose for which it was collected. While collecting
    tzedaka, a person may not say that he is collecting for one purpose or for
    one poor person, while he has in mind to transmit the funds he collects to a
    different person or to use them for a different purpose. To do so is a
    deception that is close to stealing.

  4. If a person declares to a poor person that he will give
    him tzedaka, he may not give the tzedaka to another. If he states that he
    will give tzedaka to a specific poor person, but that person is not aware of
    his intentions, it is unclear whether he can fulfill his vow (for in saying
    that he will give tzedaka he has made a vow) by giving to another.
    Therefore, he should do what he has stated and give to the person he
    mentioned.

  5. If a person makes a vow to give tzedaka and then
    immediately declares that he has changed his mind, it is not clear whether
    the vow is nullified, for the poskim disagree. But when a person makes a vow
    giving no external expression to his thought, his vow is nullified if he
    changes his mind immediately. He can also change his mind later with respect
    to the person who benefits from his silent vow. He is permitted to give the
    tzedaka he vowed to a different poor person. A vow to give tzedaka is not
    established by thought alone until a final decision is made. Entertaining
    the idea or considering the possibility of giving tzedaka does not establish
    a vow.

  6. Once a person transmits tzedaka funds to another person
    for distribution, he cannot reclaim them for the purpose of distributing
    them himself.

  7. A person who is entrusted with the task of collecting tzedaka from the
    community must be very careful not to do anything that might raise the
    suspicion that he is using the funds for his own benefit.