February 21, 2021

Tzedakah Committee FAQ

We have received a number of questions regarding the committee. Below, please find the most common questions that have been asked of the committee and the answers to these questions.

Q. What should I do if someone comes to my home without an “Approval ID” number?

A. Please encourage them to call the Tzedakah Committee to request an application. They can call the Tzedakah Committee’s phone number, (201) 343-5190 or on our website homepage, you will find a printable information sheet to give to the meshulachim. You should speak to you personal Rav regarding giving to those individuals without our approval. You can be helpful in favoring those that have our approval.

Q. People come to my home and say they applied for our approval months ago. Why does it take so long?

A. We process applications on average in one to two weeks. If someone says this to you, please take their name and cell number and contact our office. Their application could be lost or you may be speaking with a person that has not responded to our request for additional information or documentation. Please remember, without an“Approval ID” number, you cannot be assured of the individual’s need to collect.

Q. What about all the meshulachim that come around in shul during davening?

A. This is an issue that each shul must address individually. We believe that every person collecting in our community should be approved by the committee. You can be helpful in favoring those that are approved. Please speak to your personal Rav about this issue.

Q. The same people come every few weeks to my home. What am I to do?

A. Each family should establish their own policy in consultation with their personal Rav.

Q. Often, three or four people come at the same time. Only one has an “Approval ID” number. Are all the people in the group approved by the committee?

A. Only the person whose name and picture appear on our website has been screened and approved by the committee. You must check the picture on the website carefully to be sure that the person collecting is the person that has been approved by the committee.

Q. Who are these organizations that the meshulachim request the checks be made out to? When reviewing my canceled checks, often the endorsement just doesn’t seem to be right.

A. Unfortunately, many of the meshulachim that come to our community with a real need to collect do not have a formal way to cash checks. Therefore, they might use a 3rd party to cash their check. Also, since the check is made out to an authorized tax-exempt organization, you receive a tax deduction. We recognize that this is not the optimal situation, however the committee is unable to address this issue at the present time.

Q. I understand that the drivers often receive a large percentage of the proceeds. Is this true?

A. We have spoken to most of the regular drivers that come into our community. Our investigation found that many of them receive up to 33% of what is collected. Some, however, are paid an hourly basis. Frankly, we have been unable to develop an efficient alternative to the current driver situation.

Q. Is there a published list of individuals that have been reviewed by the committee and their application denied?

A. You can ascertain our up-to-date approval of any solicitor by visiting the website. In order to find someone in our system, visit our website www.tbtzedakah.org, and click on “Confirm approval”. Enter the password (we suggest you save the password for quick access from your device in the future). In the field “Search content,” enter the name or approval ID that will be provided by the meshulach. We suggest you search by the approval code to overcome spelling mistakes. It is important that you compare the photo on the web site to the person at your home. You can also click HERE.

Q. Are certificates from other communities valid? Why does each community have to have their own process? Why can’t there be one committee that does the approval for all of New Jersey/New York metropolitan area?

A. In our investigation, early in the committee’s work, we contacted nearly a dozen communities to learn how their verification process was done. Several have impressive processes in place. Yet no other committee that we contacted requires personal contact with references, a process that is the foundation of our approval process. We share information when appropriate and respond to “alerts” and other common concerns that the other communities address. We continually learn from each other. However, every community has developed a system that services their needs depending on the available manpower. We felt that we could enhance the process with a verification that included personal contact with the references. We very much support a universal approval process, but to date, although we have spoken about this to other communities, no one or organization has addressed this need. Due to the diligent work of our volunteers, our approvals are highly regarded in many cities and sometimes forms the basis for their committee’s approval. Having many well networked committees with different approaches has served the community well in the past in alerting us to questionable situations.

Q. How many request does the committee reject? Are there really “frauds” trying to collect?

A. The overwhelming majority of people that apply are approved. We have found that due to our reputation and our detailed review process, this discourages fraudulent visitors from requesting our approval. Every family can help us in limiting fraudulent collectors by respecting the system and favoring individuals that have our approval.

Updated COVID Guidelines

Safety is our #1 concern.

Please do not allow the meshulachim in your home. We have no way of monitoring if government quarantine rules are being followed. Many of the meshulachim are traveling to Teaneck, often in crowded vehicles where masking and social distancing is not being respected. Suggestions to ensure safety in your interactions with the meshulachim:

1. Always ensure masking and social distancing is being respected.

2. Consider having envelopes available outside your door and request the meshulach provide his/her address in order to mail a donation. This eliminates any personal contact and you can then go to our website, confirm their approval status and mail them your contribution to the address on our website. (If local address is available.)

3. Many in the community are using their porches, garages and other outside areas to meet. Again, we must respect social distancing and masking in these face-to-face discussions.

We hope that this correspondence answers the many questions regarding the committee and our work on the community’s behalf. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the committee’s office at TBTzedakah @ gmail.com.