Thursday, February 6, 2020

To a nameless supporter

Some thoughts that follow here are triggered by a very welcome but entirely unexpected seven-figure donation received (via a well-known investment bank) by the Malki Foundation in the US this week.

From an anonymous donor.

Over at the website, they remind us of how Maimonides, one of classical Judaism's most influential thinkers and scholars, famously stated eight distinctive levels of charitable given.

Near the top of his list is giving anonymously. And right ahead of that in significance is giving "where the donor doesn't know to whom he gives and the recipient doesn't know from whom he receives".

Higher still, the pinnacle of the Jewish scale of donating, is where the anonymous giver establishes a personal relationship with the needy person but in such a way that the loan, the job, the grant or whatever the charitable act is, is done in a way that allows the recipient to no longer have to rely on others [Mishneh Torah of the Rambam, Matanot Ani'im 10:7-8]

He writes that the greatness of an anonymous gift is in its being "a commandment fulfilled for its own sake" as distinct from one that's done in order to obtain honor. And that a no-less-important consideration is the imperative of not shaming the recipient.

Experessed in contemporary terms, Maimonides says giving to a reliable charity where the people managing the fund know the identity of the recipients (of course) but no one else does is a way of fulfilling this superior level of charity. The person in need feels no shame because only the people doing the administering - and not the donors - know where it goes.

Here at the Malki Foundation, we have learned to be sensitive to the privacy and to the self-respect of  the families and children we support and serve. When we publish names and faces, we explain that they are not the real names and not the real faces but that the facts we describe when we tell about the child and the child's special needs are always real and accurate.

To our respected anonymous donor: We have no way to get this message to you other than by broadcasting it here. But we want you to know it's a privilege and a pleasure to be entrusted with your charitable giving and to know that you trust us to use it wisely, efficiently and effectively.

Our sincere thanks to you, dear unknown friend.

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