The following was sent to Matzav.com by Tomchei Tzedakah of Lakewood:
You look at a meshulach’s ishur from Tomchei Tzedakah and it has stamped in red letters: “This meshulach may be using an unapproved driver.” You wonder, “What is that supposed to mean?”
Since its inception, Tomchei Tzedakah has had two objectives: 1) Support meshulachim and their efforts, and 2) to make sure that the tzedakah funds of the Lakewood community goes to true tzedakah needs.
Since Lakewood is a large city, most meshulachim cannot go around on their own, which requires them to use drivers. The drivers in Lakewood (and in other cities) often drive 3+ meshulachim at a time and take one-third of what the meshulachim collect. There are many perspectives on this:
-Most Rabbonim feel the drivers are taking too much and it is an inappropriate use of tzedakah funds.
-Drivers feel that they work hard, spend years learning routes, houses, who is home when, etc. and deserve to be paid well.
-Many meshulachim feel they overpay the drivers but, because the drivers have banded together, they have no choice but to give up a third of what they collect, while some meshulachim feel that 1/3 is reasonable.
-Many nadvanim feel too large a percentage of their donations are going to drivers. Some have even stopped answering their doors to meshulachim and this is their #1 reason for doing so. Other nadvanim understand the drivers’ position and do not seem to mind the current arrangement.
It is important to note that, unlike other cities and unlike the way it was in Lakewood in years past, the current drivers residing in Lakewood are shomrei torah u’mitzvos. However, we cannot vouch for any of the drivers that come from outside of Lakewood.
At the suggestion of Reb Shlome Miller and our Rabbinical board shlit’a, Tomchei Tzedakah has asked the drivers to sign an agreement that they will not take more than
33% if they are driving one meshulach, 25% if they are driving two meshulachim or 20% if they are driving three meshulachim, and that they will never take more than three meshulachim at a time.
To date, only two drivers have signed. Our preference is that all the drivers sign to the above. However, instead of forcing meshulachim to use “approved drivers” we intend to make the process transparent and leave the decision to you, the nadvan. Every meshulach is now being asked to sign an agreement that he will only use Tomchei Tzedakah-approved drivers who have agreed to the terms above. Those meshulachim that prefer to use the drivers that have not signed may do so, but now nadvanim will see the red stamp that the meshulach may be using an unapproved driver and can make an informed decision.
Due to this stamp (and perhaps due to a 2nd stamp – that the ishur is not to be used during birchas krias shma), some meshulachim may stop showing their ishur or may fold them over so that the stamps cannot be seen. If this issue is important to you, please do not hesitate to ask meshulachim to show their ishur – we have advised them to expect it.
If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to email us at TomcheiTzedakah@gmail.com or call us at 732-367-7770.
Please give chizuk to the drivers and meshulachim that are cooperating with these new guidelines.