Many shuls and organizations provide a way to fulfill matanos laevyonim by giving online or sending a check made out to the organization.

How does this work? Is it as simple as "you're enabling them to give gifts to poor people on Purim, so it's good enough"? Or do they have somebody in the office actually make a kinyan on your behalf before giving the money or food to the poor people, with some formulation that makes sure each donor gives a shaveh perutah to each of two recipients? If it's the second, does anyone know what text is actually used?

For the standard mitzvah of tzedaka I would be surprised if the first option isn't good enough, since at the end of the day money is going to poor people. For matanos laevyonim it's not so clear to me that it counts as an actual matana to two people, since the money all gets mixed up and it's not clear how it's divided. The simplest ways to divide it would be:

  1. Each recipient receives money from each donor, proportional to how much the donor gave. For example if 100 people each gave $10 and there are 100 poor people, each poor person gets $10 total, 10 cents from each donor. The problem is in general each donor's tzedaka is not necessarily going to a shaveh perutah for each of two poor people.
  2. The money gets given out in the order it was received. In the same case, each donor would give to one recipient, which means they're not giving to two people as required.

For normal tzedaka it doesn't matter too much, but neither of these allows the donor to fulfill matanos laevyonim in the general case.

  • Within all this, I think matanot l'evyonim can be given by a shaliach (messenger) and you don't need to know who the 2 recipients are. An aspect of your question that needs more research is if a collection from many going to just 2 distributes that mitzvah to all the donors. I think it does. Case in point - my son goes around the neighborhood collecting checks for a yeshivah. I occasionally contact the Rosh Yeshiva and I think he explained that this was considered valid matanot l'evyonim as well as the usual tzedaka. – DanF Feb 21 '18 at 15:13

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