WIBU to give money anonymously?

(48 Posts)
blameitonthecaffeine Tue 09-Apr-13 23:05:09

Some friends of ours were talking about how they are struggling financially, never seem to have enough money to reach the end of the month, are in debt etc.

They weren't talking to DH and I specifically but to a group of people from church (we were all discussing things that are worrying us atm and praying about them).

We are in a position to help them. But to give someone a substantial amount of money is socially unacceptable isn't it? In their position I would be hideously embarrassed.

So I want to put money in an envelope and put it through their door as an anonymous gift. But I also think this would make them paranoid and embarrassed around everyone they meet, helpless to either accept or refuse the money properly and just be generally awkward for them.

They have been very supportive friends to us over the years. My eldest daughter has been seriously ill and I'm not sure would be here without the unfailing support of their daughter and themselves.

I want to help but I'm worried I am being wussy, patronising and 'lady bountiful' about it. Please don't flame me, I'm not meaning to be.


HollyBerryBush Tue 09-Apr-13 23:07:18

Ask her for 50p, say you'll go halves on a lucky dip - don't show her the ticket and tell a little white lie that you won!

LetMeAtTheWine Tue 09-Apr-13 23:07:39

Could you perhaps offer them an interest free loan instead, explaining that it wouldn't have to be paid back if they didn't want to and that you are in a position to help them out as they have helped you out?

currentbuns Tue 09-Apr-13 23:10:55

My mother was in a similar situation to you. One of her oldest friends was struggling financially, and my mother desperately wanted to help her but was worried about causing embarrassment or offence. In the end, she just wrote out a fairly big cheque and posted it in a thoughtfully-worded card. She made it perfectly clear that it was a gift. The friend was actually very grateful.

bookishandblondish Tue 09-Apr-13 23:17:15

The fact you were in church makes it easier - you could simply say God told us.

Alternatively, I have known two people receive anonymous gifts of money (substantial for them- several months of rent) who were simply grateful. Again, the message alluded to Gods blessing. Neither ever found out who or became paranoid.
One of the notes just said to pay it forward like the film.

Interest free loan which doesn't have to be paid back - doesn't fit with the concept. I'd be unable to accept because it would add to my worry not reduce it.

blameitonthecaffeine Tue 09-Apr-13 23:32:11

Agree that the God angle could work in our favour!

Also think that the loan idea isn't going to cut it, if we do this we want it to be a gift.

UniS Tue 09-Apr-13 23:34:37

If you thought it would be less embarrassing , how about a largish gift card for a local supermarket every now n then.

beakysmum Tue 09-Apr-13 23:39:28

I am a Christian and have been in this situation a couple of times. Each time I went for money in the envelope anonymously donated. A card is a nice touch though.

The gifts have never (yet!) been traced back to me, and there has never been any awkwardness.

I would say go for it, you are probably being prompted to do it.

beakysmum Tue 09-Apr-13 23:39:44

I am a Christian and have been in this situation a couple of times. Each time I went for money in the envelope anonymously donated. A card is a nice touch though.

The gifts have never (yet!) been traced back to me, and there has never been any awkwardness.

I would say go for it, you are probably being prompted to do it.

OhTheConfusion Wed 10-Apr-13 00:08:41

DH and I did this for his close friends a few years ago. We knew things were tight for them after his DW had to give up her job due to depression/panic attacks but we honestly had no idea quite how bad the financial situation had got sad. When we found out we knew they would be so embarrassed and couldn't bear for them to worry any more.

DH and I agreed that we couldn't go on a nice holiday knowing our friends were losing sleep over money. We lifted the 'holiday fund' and posted it through the door with a £50 M&S gift card and a small typed note saying the gift card had to be spent on treats only.

Almost four years later they are back on their feet both mentally and financially.

Jojobump1986 Wed 10-Apr-13 00:23:15

My parents have done this in the past. They got my DH to write the envelope so they wouldn't recognise the handwriting! All done entirely anonymously & as far as I know the family have never found out who it was that kept sending them money.

It might be worth not doing anything for a week or 2 if this is a long term problem for them so they won't necessarily associate the arrival of the gift with this specific conversation. If you want to be really sneaky you could get someone you trust to post it from a different location so there would be a postmark as a decoy!

Alanna1 Wed 10-Apr-13 01:06:30

I would feel really uncomfortable anonymously receiving money and permanently wonder who had sent it. I think the cheque/loan idea best with a suitably worded card saying something like how grateful you are for all the help and support they've given you / that you are grateful to God for the conversation at church showing you that you are able to thank them & offer help in this way.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 01:51:38

The fact you want to give anonymously shows you want to do this for all the right reasons (a truly altruistic act!) smile
However, I actually think it would be more meaningful for them if you wrote a card, enclosing a cheque etc Personally, I'd keep it short and sweet: We know things aren't easy for you right now and felt prompted by God to give you this 'no strings attached' gift! Please regard it as a thank you for your unfailing care and support over the years. God bless.

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 01:54:43

Oh, and btw, what a wonderful thing to do! smile

LeoandBoosmum Wed 10-Apr-13 01:58:55

Meant to add... If they feel overwhelmed and say they can't take it I would quote Matthew 10:8 'Freely you have received, freely give' and remind them that they may be in a position themselves to do such a thing for another person some day! smile

sashh Wed 10-Apr-13 04:58:48

Slightly different but a friend who was struggling (self employed work had dried up) and needed a professional accreditation renewing.

She received a phone call from the organisation saying someone wanted to anonymously pay her subscription and was it OK.

Maybe you could do something like that. Ask the priest/vicar/pastor/minister/whatever you call him or her and I can't think of anymore titles, to say someone from the church would like to give them some money anonymously.

I know that means someone else would know, but they can also say it is the right thing to accept.

It might also be something that could become ongoing, a sort of fund for members in need.

Lottashakingoinon Wed 10-Apr-13 06:49:54

Have no advice to give that hasn't already been given but I just wanted to say, lucky licky them to have friends like you and what a spirit lifter your thread is. smile

lougle Wed 10-Apr-13 08:24:20

Could you do it through your church? In our church, the treasurer may approach someone and say 'a member wanted to offer you a financial gift anonymously' and hand the person an envelope.

lougle Wed 10-Apr-13 08:29:55

The other thing to bear in mind, is that sometimes there are many people in need. Some people mention their needs a lot, while others don't feel that they should. If you were to approach your church and ask if it might be appropriate, they may have the bigger picture.

You can end up with a situation where one person gets many donations because they frequently mention their struggles, while another only privately tells the pastor they are struggling and gets nothing.

Pendipidy Wed 10-Apr-13 08:47:13

Lougle-God knows about them though :-)

blameitonthecaffeine Wed 10-Apr-13 09:43:29

Thank you for sharing your stories and ideas.

We have decided to do it. Still dithering about anonymously or not. I think it probably will be, I'm really not comfortable with putting a name to it. But I like the idea of going through the church leadership.

It's a good point about there being lots of people in need though. I suppose we all do what we can don't we. I'm very aware that we are luckier than most financially and I do believe that our money is not ours to keep to ourselves but a gift we have stewardship of and responsibility for. We do a lot of selfish spending (have lots of kids, educate privately, spend a fortune on activities) and I think that, in the current climate, we need to be less grabby. We give to a lot of 'causes' but I would like to give to an individual family this time. I'm sure there are others more in need (in fact I can think of one other struggling single woman and may include her in a gift too) but, I admit, I live in an affluent area and go to an affluent church. I don't see it around much and am probably not as aware as I should be.

DeepRedBetty Wed 10-Apr-13 09:51:47

Our church gives envelopes of money to people we know to be in need. I remember being at the home of a friend who had severe SPD (I was doing some housework and cooking for her, she could hardly move!) The treasurer and another person to the PCC came round and after they'd gone again my friend was crying with relief, in the envelope was £300, enough for new shoes for the two older girls, food, get their ancient banger through its MOT - it was wonderful.

DeepRedBetty Wed 10-Apr-13 09:52:33

* from the PCC not to the PCC.

NynaevesSister Wed 10-Apr-13 10:00:24

You are lovely to do this. Go with your heart. Pay it forward is a good one. A friend was helped out by someone she knew on the basis that, when in a position to repay the money she do the same thing for someone else.

Another way to anonymously lift a burden (if they have to pay it) is to call the council and pay their council tax. Anyone can do this anonymously.

RedHelenB Wed 10-Apr-13 10:52:28

I think it would be best being given from the Church even if you are the only person to donate! A friend of mine had the Church gift her some money when she needed it & she had no problems accepting it - she didn't know personally who had donated so therefore it didn't cause any embarassment.

whistleahappytune Wed 10-Apr-13 10:58:54

OP, if only more people had your generous impulses! flowers

I second what Red suggests. Approach your vicar/priest and have the money come from the church.

EuroShaggleton Wed 10-Apr-13 11:04:22

What a lovely thing to want to do.

I think in your circumstances making it anonymous as a "church gift" might be a sensible way forward.

Mamf74 Wed 10-Apr-13 11:08:51

Oh, what a lovely thing to do!

Just a word of warning re paying off council tax - a relative of ours has just found out that through the bank incorrectly applying a decimal point they'd paid their council tax for two years upfront (they are v wealthy and didn't notice) but were never advised about the credit. They ended up having about 2,000 pounds refunded as they kept paying it monthly. If you do pay off council tax they may never know, and keeping paying regardless!

NynaevesSister Wed 10-Apr-13 11:23:49

That's interesting MAM. I pay mine by direct debit. If I make extra payments online it automatically reduces the amount taken each month. If I pay extra over the phone then they deduct from the end of my bill. I try to pay extra so that when it comes to the end of Nov I am paid up. The council does not deduct anything from my account until the next bill begins.

quoteunquote Wed 10-Apr-13 11:39:44

what we do and I have found works really well, and feels comfortable for everyone,

Is to give an amount of money what ever you feel is appropriate or can afford, on the proviso that one day if they are in a position they do the same for someone else, to just pass it on,

I always explain that I feel that it is an important system, that people do this, and the more people doing this the better.

I then never mention it again,

I was bought up in a belief system that practices this, I think it is a very positive way of supporting a health society.

libertybelle Wed 10-Apr-13 12:22:12

Agree with quoteunquote that the pay it forward philosophy makes accepting any kind of gift (emotional, practical or financial) more palatable to the recipient.

Like you blameit, we have had a friend help us through a deeply distressing time as a family; being able to help financially was such a very small gesture in return really.

When the situation arose I made it very clear that this was something we could afford to do and that we wouldn't discuss the transaction further if she decided to take the money. She text me her bank details a couple of days later and our friendship has continued as before.

Agree that if you think that the direct approach is not appropriate, the money could be gifted to them via the church.

lougle Wed 10-Apr-13 12:39:15

blameitonthecaffeine I agree you should do it for the family you are thinking of....I was just musing on general principles, etc.

blameitonthecaffeine Wed 10-Apr-13 16:08:47

Thank you everyone.

We are going to give it anonymously to the church leaders (put in their pigeon hole outside the church office) to give anonymously to the family. A bit of a convoluted conspiracy but I think it's a good compromise - we will be comfortable in our total anonymity and they will (hopefully!) be more comfortable in seeing it as a donation through the church rather than a mystery envelope.

God bless you. thanks

Misspixietrix Wed 10-Apr-13 16:18:11

That's a lovely gesture for you to do OP flowers
I second everyone else in asking if the Vicar can pass it on? When I split up with my Ex I was going through a bad financial patch, someone had gone to our Minister telling them they wanted me to have x amount it but thought I'd be offended if they tried to give it to me directly. I don't know who it was to this day and was eternally grateful to them ~

Mondrian Wed 10-Apr-13 16:48:21

We need more threads like this on MN ... I love the pay it forward idea quoteunquote put on the table too.

CwtchesAndCuddles Wed 10-Apr-13 17:07:59

I'm a Christian and have also been in this situation a few times.

Last time it was near Christmas and we gave them a card with cash in it.

I drew one of the couple to oneside, gave her the card and said there was someting inside and to please accept it in the spirit is was given. They accepted the gift, thanked us at the time and it has never been mentioned since.

Our church also has a hardship fund which people donate to and it is distributed as needs come to light. Have you heard of CAP they run a budgeting course through many churches which may be helpful?


Coconutty Wed 10-Apr-13 17:14:32

This is going to sound awful but do you trust the church elders to give it to them? How would you know if they did or not? they may find some where else to spend it.

I would actually hand it to a church elder rather than leaving it anonymously.

I was in your position at Christmas and put money in an envelope and posted it through their door one night.

itshothere Wed 10-Apr-13 17:28:46

You sound like a lovely friend. They as a family have helped you in the past with their devotion to your DD when you needed it. I would have a private meeting with them, say how grateful for are to them, how much you appreciate them etc. As you leave give them an envelope containing the money with a liitle note asking them to graciously accept your help, making sure that they know that you have given them this gift and no one else knows (so they don't have to feel any embarrassment).
I would like to know who the donor was if I was in that position, just to be able to say thank you.

cat811 Wed 10-Apr-13 17:33:05

We have been recipients in this position before (both anonymously and not), and whilst it is really lovely to be able to thank the very generous givers, there is a real freedom in just being able to receive the money when you most need it, and not feel that awkward politeness of 'should I refuse/how hard should I protest before I accept graciously/will they be expecting to see how I spent their money' etc - anonymity is the way to go! smile
We made sure we smiled extra hard at everyone we knew for ages afterwards though, in case it was them, so they could see how grateful we were!!

DisorganisednotDysfunctional Wed 10-Apr-13 17:39:44

I did this for a friend. I put the money in a card and sent it to her via the school her DD attended. I just wrote "from a well-wisher" inside in disguised handwriting and the reception staff passed it on. She still doesn't know it was me. This works well if you can use some sort of internal mail system so you don't have to risk sending cash through the normal post. Could you get a card to them anonymously through the church?

blameitonthecaffeine Wed 10-Apr-13 20:18:34

coconutty Yes, I can trust the leaders. I would trust them with my children's lives.

Coconutty Wed 10-Apr-13 20:25:41

Cool, sorry to ask, hope I didn't offend you. I was bought up in a religious environment and remember clearly one of the elders not being as honest as he should.

It's a lovely thing of you to do,

MediumOrchid Wed 10-Apr-13 20:42:32

I'm in this exact position, from the other side. £200 left in an envelope in our church pigeon hole. I'm not quite sure what to make of it really, and feel a bit bad, as we were quite short of money but things suddenly changed for us and for the first time in years we have more than we need. If things had been really bad I'd have been very grateful.

I thunk it's a lovely thing for you to do.

Coconutty Wed 10-Apr-13 20:43:39

OOh, maybe it's from Caffeine, Medium

Really lovely thread. I'm totally having a boo as I read this! smile

BlingLoving Wed 10-Apr-13 20:55:26

This has been very interesting. I have a friend who I really really want to do something similar for. I had thought of doing it anonymously and think in OP's case that is the right thing but all your comments make me realise that I could do it directly, which would be logistically a lot easier in my situation. Thank you OP for raising this.

urbanturban Wed 10-Apr-13 21:23:47

Just want to say what a lovely thread this is......snuggling my (teething and upset) DS and this kind of thread makes me emotional, but upbeat for his future.......despite what we often hear, there ARE good people out there! Thank you.....

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