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Phil & Thropic

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Anonymous Donations

Name@ Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

I recently gave money to a non-profit organization. When I heard that they publicly post the names of those who give to their organization, I asked (pursuant to Maimonides' principles of charity, as well as general modesty provisions) to have my contribution posted as an anonymous donor. When I suggested this however, the fund-raiser suggested that, for a variety of reasons, it was likely that having my name posted would result in some people giving who would not do so otherwise. For the time being I am listed as anonymous, what do you (and halacha) suggest?


Dear Name@Withheld,

As you wrote, a very lofty way of fulfilling the mitzvah of charity is to give anonymously. Of the eight levels listed in the Code of Jewish Law, this is the third highest level.

However, if a specific person's donation will serve as a source of motivation for others to donate, then it would be correct for the donor to allow the institution to advertise his donation.

If publicizing the donation will cause difficulty, then it shouldn't be done. For example, if advertising the donor's name will inundate him with appeals from charities that are beyond his means or interest, he shouldn't allow his name to be published.

Sources:

  • Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 249:8,13
  • Ibid 248:7

 
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