Do Meshulachim Drivers Get Paid Too Much?

[The following was submitted to TLS by the 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) To support meshulachim and their efforts, and 2) to make sure that the tzedakah funds of theLakewood 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 inLakewood (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 inLakewoodin 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 ofLakewood. 

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 [email protected] or call us at732-367-7770. 

P.S. Please give chizuk to the drivers and meshulachim that are cooperating with these new guidelines.

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  1. I think the biggest issue is that the drivers are taking a percentage, rather than a fixed hourly rate. This, more than anything else, leaves people with the feeling that their money is not going for its intended purpose. Why don’t drivers charge an hourly rate? If a driver actually benefits the meshulach by his knowledge of the routes, he would be able to command a higher hourly rate.

  2. Before all the complainers bash Tomchei Tzedakah for supposedly “not having ahavas Yisroel” I know for a fact of an office building in Lakewood with many nadvanim that will not give to meshulachim because of this problem. The nadvanim feel that the drivers are taking too much of a percentage.

    Think about it. You give someone $100, and the driver takes $33 right there.

    This will help meshulachim in the long run.

  3. Laniyus daati, I don’t get it. I say live and let live. If you don’t like to give then don’t give…. Don’t ask for ishurim. The mushulach would rather that you don’t give and don’t insult them by asking for an ishur. They are degrading themselves enough by collecting for themselves. I don’t understand why people are so concerened that their money reaches the “right” tzedaka. I doubt Hashem gives you more or less credit based on how well the cause was. The main point of giving tzedaka is not to help others. Rather it is to help yourself and turn yourself into a giver. But then again, who am I to contradict rabbanim?

  4. The way I see it is that everyone has to make a living and it’s not up to us to decide how someone earns his parnoso. I give my dollars with the intent they go for tzedaka, but, I don’t fargin anyone his right to make his living too. Hashem is the provider for all.

  5. Y don’t you drive them and the answer is there are few people willing to drive so it works with supply and demand very simple ( I’m half asleep do hope u understand )

  6. There aare plenty of aneeyim in our town who have drivers licences who are employed and also not employed and looking for a job. Why don’t we hire some of our own to be a driver and this way they can take 33 percent and it wont bother anyone because he is an aneeyai eercha and all is resolved. I can name at least 5 in this town who aqre struggling and unemployed aand would love to be a driver.

  7. Why can’t all of these people should invest their time and energies trying to learn a vocation and possibly (pardon the expression ) ” get a job ” ? I’ve always thought that the highest form of charity was to give someone a opportunity to “earn ” a living ?

  8. This has been going on for years, the drivers are taking advantage of the meshulachim if they end up with anything more than $30 an hour, no matter if there is 1 or 3 meshulachim in the car. Or at the very least the drivers earnings should be cappd. The drivers “tayna” that they know the routes is without merit, since they take the same groups to the same places places very frequently.

  9. As a fundraiser I truly understand where the drivers % pay comes from but they should b capped! Also let’s not forget they also need parnasah.

  10. As someone involved in an honest, audited charity, I’m fed up with the superficial logic that led to this “solution”. The drivers (and other leidigeyers with their hands out) can claim a piece of the tzedaka pie simply because they are the gatekeepers for “inside” information. Let the community leaders compile an address list of donors, and make it available to legitimate collectors. In one stroke, you change the economics, you make it possible for a collector to take an ordinary taxi cab or rent a car, and you save countless thousands of dollars that can now reach the tzedaka for which they were intended in the first place. I have the impression some otherwise smart business people seem to lose their seichel when they are confronted with today’s “charity” “professionals”. I’m baffled by the phenomenon.

  11. I am a baal tzadakah in this town, I always ask the meshulach if his driver gets a percentage or rather a fixed amount. if he answers a percentage I give him $0.00

  12. Please use some common sense here. When you get to a business trip and you finally arrive at your business contact, Now would that business contact care how much you paid for the airline ticket? Really… what if the airline ticket was very expensive, imagine him saying I am not doing business with you because too much of the money is going to the airline. That would be ridiculous to say the least.

    Now to the meshulach, getting to tne address is like a business trip (unfortunately), they are shopping for a driver just as if you shop for an airline ticket. Now if the driver they found is too expensive, they have made the decision to take it on the chin, so what sense does it make to punish the meshulach? I know that Tomchei Tzedaka has very good intentions on bringing down the price, but the means they use is terribly wrong, I believe.

  13. This is really an outrage to me. When I give a collector $10 at my door, I had no idea $3 was going to the driver.

    In the charity world, it is considered acceptable for 25-30% of donations to go to overhead, with the rest directly to the cause. If the driver is taking 30% and I am sure the other expenses such as meals, travel, etc are also coming out of donations, I would not be surprised if only 40-50% of donations are actually going to those who need it. In the charity world, this would be hugely unacceptable, so I do not know why we would allow this either. No more donations from me, sorry.

  14. My biggest beef is when they drop off 4 meshulachim by your house and each one knocks separately, as if he’s alone, then they keep coming.
    Then the driver tells each of them how much I gave the last time he was there and what to say.
    Now I always tell the meshulach NOT to tell the driver how much I gave and I no longer have my name and address on my Tzedaka checks.

  15. Thank you TLS for bringing this up, they should only give an ishur if the driver gets paid a set amount per hour like most workers not percentage, PERIOD

  16. Now Mr. Nice guy is the only one here so far that makes sense. Because by knocking seperately 4 different people, they in effect participate with the driver in the scheme to press out more, by misleading the address that there’s no one else, so ultimately he is a legitimate target to punish…. but everyone else in here make no sense. I understand you’re outraged of how much of YOUR money is going to the driver. But quite frankly it is none of your business how the meshulach is breaking even with his expenses…

    If you think of it really hard, is it possible that we’re only looking fr excuses not to give, but we just need some validation to justify our desires, and this driver issue is just a perfect fit…. just a possibility

  17. Yossie, I abolutely agree. Competition is great for every market, and it will bring the price down as with any industry. It is the way to go in this free society, without terrorizing the meshulach. Yes, terror. That’s what their current approach is, no other way to look at it.

  18. Yidden: We are rachmanim and gomlei chasadim. Don’t be proud of giving 0.00. One poster condems those who collect and don’t work, another condems the drivers who are working for a living. Thank you Tomchei Tzeddakos for keeping us informed. As for myself, I ask for the Ishur, give what I can, and then ask for a Bracha. May Hash-m help us all with the yeshuas that we need.

  19. Dear Lakewood Grandmother ; Is there something wrong with someone working for a living ? Many of these people are “Lifers” and we are the “enablers” . Yes there are many people who have extraordinary needs. Yes there are organizations that have needs for fundraising. But I am sorry to tell you that my morning davening (which is a miztvah) is constantly interrupted by these people asking me to do the the mitzvah of Tzedukkah . There has to be a better way.

  20. Question: if I give a meshulach ten dollars, and he gives the driver three, does it count as if I gave ten dollars of my maaser or does it count that I gave seven?

  21. shmichelfoofer, you can extend your question… what if the meshulach uses additional $2. To buy some food, so now he has left only $5. Of your donation. Does that mean you only gave $5. Maaser? Please let me know if it answers your question.

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