FAQs

NOTE: THE DATA FOR CURRENTLY APPROVED COLLECTORS HAS BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE ALERTS PAGE. 

How do you check collectors who come from afar?

We check databases with hundreds of names, call or email people who have information about the collectors and/or their institutions, and we network with other Vaadim worldwide.  We also request documentation and specific information as appropriate, such as doctor bills with the doctor’s name and contact numbers,  prognoses, prescriptions, bank statements, receipts, etc.

Is it OK to rely on a letter or certificate from (a particular Rabbi or organization)?

Our policy is not to rely on a letter from anyone without verifying that the letter was actually written by the person who purportedly signed the letter.  SOMETIMES, LETTERS ARE BOGUS AND ARE WRITTEN BY THE COLLECTOR HIMSELF OR ONE OF HIS ACQUAINTANCES.  In some cases, the letters are legitimate and the signing Rabbis are well-meaning, but bend over backwards to help their "congregants".  Sometimes, there are just too many people being certified by an organization to allow adequate inquiry into the facts.  And some Rabbis write letters for people without verifying all the facts.  There are other Vaadim who do very good investigative work, but on the other hand some (who may call themselves Vaadim or give themselves impressive-sounding names) do very little.  For example, several individuals have shown us certificates written by a group of Rabbis in Brooklyn who just don’t make inquisitive calls to Israel–one of these "certified" collectors was discovered by a real Vaad to be working for "Jews for JC".  We’ve learned that another organization based in North Miami Beach has been making up certificates, a number of which were issued to individuals that we would never ever consider certifying.  So we would not recommend relying on certificates given out with such low standards.  Moreover, occasionally collectors lose their standing between the time they were certified in another city, and when they arrived here.  We strive to have the most up-to-date information.

Aren’t we, as Jews, supposed to give to everyone who comes, regardless of certification?

We are told that if someone claims that he needs food, you should give enough for a meal.  Otherwise, as far as we know, giving without checking out the recipient applies only one day out of the year, on Purim.

Should we only give to people with certificates from the Vaad?

We recommend that any substantial donations to collectors should be given to Vaad-approved causes, unless you are absolutely certain about the collector and his cause; e.g., a famous Rosh Yeshiva.

If someone was approved last year, why wouldn’t he be assumed to be approved this year?

See the causes of disqualification below, and there may be a loss of his standing, as stated above.

Is there a limit as to how many times someone can come here and get a certificate?

The limit is ONE CERTIFICATE PER YEAR, AND THEY ARE TO COLLECT ONLY DURING THE DATES OF VALIDITY AS WRITTEN ON THE CERTIFICATE.  Under very rare circumstances, this may be waived, or stretched, but the collector must provide ample justification.  Please abide by the certificate’s date of expiration.

Why are there so many people at my door? (alternate: Why do you send these people to me?)

They learned where to go from drivers and other meshulachim who follow other drivers and meshulachim.  We understand that a NY organization that cashes checks for these people also sell lists of addresses.  Businesses advertised in Israeli newspapers and houses with Mezuzahs are easy to find.  Some people in Shuls or other institutions suggest people to solicit.  The collectors are not employees or contractors of the Vaad, and the Vaad doesn’t tell them where to go.  We believe that there would be fewer knocks if everyone limited their giving as per the previous paragraph.  Be aware – some will actually visit the same place twice on the same visit, even within a day.  We know of a situation where a collector collected four checks at the same residence  from multiple visits between November 2007 and February 2008.  This is probably happening more often than we realize, so we recommend that you keep a list of the names and institutions that you pay.  It is easy for the drivers to discover patterns whereby the wife can be seen one time and the husband another.  One time the collector wears a hat, and another time just a yarmulke.  One time he collects for personal and another for an institution.

What can be done to reduce the number of people knocking at my door or ringing the bell?

Use the presence or absence of a certificate from our Vaad to help you decide whether and how much to give.  ABIDE BY THE DATES OF VALIDITY, ESPECIALLY THE DATE OF EXPIRATION.  ENFORCE THE ONCE PER YEAR RULE BY KEEPING A LIST OF YOUR CHECKS WITH THE COLLECTOR’S NAME AND THAT OF THE INSTITUTION AS WELL, IF APPLICABLE.  REPORT ABUSE TO THE VAAD.  ENCOURAGE YOUR FRIENDS, RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS TO DO LIKEWISE.

What are the causes of disqualification of a collector?  Does this happen often?

Evidence of fraud or deceit, intermarriage, keeping a very large proportion or all of the money raised when he’s collecting for an institution, failure to provide relevant information to the Vaad upon request, failure to comply with the Vaad’s rules, causing damage or theft, illegal immoral or nuisance behavior.  Approximately 10-15% OF THOSE WHO REQUEST A CERTIFICATE are turned down.  HOWEVER, THE NUMBER OF THOSE WHO DO NOT CONTACT US IS FAR GREATER, PERHAPS MORE THAN ALL WHO ARE APPROVED.  WE BELIEVE THAT THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF THOSE WHO DO NOT APPLY (EXCLUDING SPECIAL CASES SUCH AS A FAMOUS ROSH YESHIVAH) WOULD NOT QUALIFY, OR ARE HERE WITHOUT WAITING THE 12-MONTH INTERVAL BETWEEN VISITS THAT WAS A RULE ESTABLISHED WELL BEFORE 2005.

Do your operations have the backing of rabbis or other people in the community?

Yes.  Names available upon request.

Why is there no fixed place and schedule for the Vaad?

This avoids past problems such as dealing with as many as 16 people waiting at a time, several fighting to be serviced first.  Moreover, there were too many times when the schedule was set and a number of people came a few minutes before closing and demanded service that would add an hour or more extra time.  The new system, where they are supposed to call first,  inhibits the expectation of simply walking in and getting approved, as we can check them out before they come and only make appointments with those likely to be approved.

What is the significance of having different colors for the cards?

The green cards were discontinued in late 2007, and replaced with orange cards.  In 2011, the color was changed to blue.  These colors were changed because MANY collectors were using EXPIRED certificates and a number of people were giving without checking the validity dates.  Some of those who received certificates in the past would not qualify now, as more information becomes known to us.  WE EXPECT TO CHANGE THE COLOR AGAIN SOON, and may also use technology that will clearly indicate something like "VOID" or "UNAUTHORIZED COPY" if photocopied.  (When implemented, the changes will be noted on this website.)  However, there is no guarantee that dishonest people can’t find a way around that. 

Should I give the same amount to each collector?

Possibly not.  We recommend that you consult a reputable competent Orthodox Rabbi to determine how much to budget for Tzedakah, and then prioritize according to the type of case, such as Hachnasat Kallah or Yeshivah and other details such as location, number of people, deficit, loans, urgency, etc.  Some of these details may be written on the Vaad certificate in order to assist your determination.

Should checks be made payable to "Tzedakah V’Chesed" or "Vaad" or the collector or the institution he represents?

No checks intended for collectors or their institutions should be made payable to the Vaad.  Tzedakah V’Chesed is the name of an organization in New York, and also there is another one in Lakewood — they cash checks for the collectors, and we understand that they charge a small fee to (partially) cover the service and returned checks.  For some collectors who will travel to those locations after leaving here, this is acceptable.  However, there are those collectors who prefer to cash checks here, allowing them to pay local expenses such as drivers and accomodations.   Many of these people don’t have bank accounts, and if they did, some would be subject to seizure by creditors.   If you are claiming tax deductions, it is your responsibility to verify that an organization that receives your check is actually tax-deductible.

If a collector says he’s staying briefly or that he just came into town and can’t have an appointment with the Vaad until the next day, is it OK to simply give him a check?

THERE’S A STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT THE PERSON WILL NOT CONTACT THE VAAD AND/OR  WILL NOT BE APPROVED BY THE VAAD.    If you value the certification of the Vaad, and you have doubts about the person, you may call us or email us.  You may decide to give some small amount and request that the person return for more AFTER receiving the certificate.

NOTE: THE DATA FOR CURRENTLY APPROVED COLLECTORS HAS BEEN TRANSFERRED TO THE ALERTS PAGE.