How do I send cash anonymously to someone and make sure it gets to the recipients?
February 15, 2008 8:55 AM   Subscribe

How do I send cash anonymously to someone and make sure it gets to the recipients? (~$400)

I have some friends who are having some trouble financially and I would like to give them some cash (about $400) to help them out. I would rather they not know who the money came from as it could make them feel awkward. Basically, it would be great if they could get a letter with some cash in it that just said "From a Friend".

Here is the problem. I would like to give them cash as they can do what they like with it, Pay Bills, go out to dinner, etc ... whatever they think is should be used for. That being said, I don't know the best way to give cash to someone anonynously. I could just mail it to them but sending cash through the mail is not really a safe thing to do. So I am looking for suggestions on how to get the cash to them, anonymously, but make sure that it actually gets to them. Thanks for any suggestions.
posted by DerekTheGeek to Work & Money (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Get a money order at your bank or the post office. You don't have to put your name on it, just theirs. Then mail it to them.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:57 AM on February 15, 2008

Get a friend of yours whom they don't know to hand-deliver it?
posted by chrismear at 8:57 AM on February 15, 2008

Sorry, I'd meant to include this link.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:59 AM on February 15, 2008

Get a money order at your bank or the post office. You don't have to put your name on it, just theirs. Then mail it to them.

This plus certified mail requiring a signature.
posted by Nelsormensch at 9:01 AM on February 15, 2008

Physically drop off the envelope of cash into their mailbox or under their door when you know thay're both at work?
posted by notsnot at 9:01 AM on February 15, 2008

I think you could send them a USPS Money Order without filling in the "From" fields completely. (Just fill in the "To" so that nobody else will be able to cash it, obviously.)

The DMM states that you're supposed to fill in both fields with names and addresses, but there's nothing in there that would seem to suggest that it's invalid without the 'From.'

I'm pretty sure in the past I've gotten USPS MOs with nothing, or at least not someone's real name (e.g. an eBay name), in the From field, and cashed it without problems.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:05 AM on February 15, 2008

seconding chrismear.
posted by cashman at 9:14 AM on February 15, 2008

I would rather they not know who the money came from as it could make them feel awkward. Basically, it would be great if they could get a letter with some cash in it that just said "From a Friend".

I know this isn't an answer, but something to think about: won't this make them feel awkward around all of their friends, wondering who gave them the money? As generous and kind as this idea is, I know that I would be mortified to receive a gift like that.
posted by amro at 9:37 AM on February 15, 2008

You're doing a very sweet thing, but I agree that it makes it seem more awkward to do it anonymously. They'll wonder who gave them money and why they didn't want thanks and the whole transaction makes their need seem a little shameful, no? It isn't shameful.

Just tell them, point blank: "This is a gift. I don't need it. I want you to have it. I hope you enjoy it. No strings attached. No thanks required. If you want to thank me, someday be generous to someone else."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:45 AM on February 15, 2008

On the one hand, it's a little embarrassing to receive a gift like that. On the other, if you're in dire need of that cash, it's very welcome, and not knowing who it came from proves that it's an honest gift with no strings attached. There's no fear of anyone thinking you're ungrateful because you didn't say "thank you" to their satisfaction.

So, with that in mind, I second the idea of sending the money certified with signature required. I don't think it would be a good idea to have a friend hand-deliver it. If I received an anonymous cash gift, I'd rather not anyone I know see my reaction. I might also think the deliverer was the one who gave me the cash or I might open it while they're there and then force them to take it back to whomever.
posted by katillathehun at 9:51 AM on February 15, 2008

my mum and her coworkers pool together some cash and send it to this particular lady on the cleaning staff at her hospital once a year. The lady is over 90 but circumstances has no family and still needs to work to pay her bills, but isn't paid all that much as a cleaning person and can't work too many hours because of her age. She would never ever accept any money if she knew where it came from.

What they do is get a postal money order made out to cash, or a money order from, like, a 7-11 or something, and mail it to her with no return address. They get me, or someone else that the older lady doesn't know, to address the envelope and do any necessary signing/writing so the handwriting can't be identified and just pop it in the mail in a different part of the city so the postmark won't give anything away either. In the areas that require a "from" they've always had me write: "Your Guardian Angel". There's never been a problem with it being received (I don't think the confirm receipt is necessary) and she's always been SO grateful. She even talks about it at work, so everyone is pretty sure she doesn't suspect it is her coworkers.

I guess what I'm saying is, you should have no problem with the formula described above and it will definitely be appreciated if they're in a bad spot AND I think the anonymous route is definitely the way to go, because they certainly wouldn't accept it otherwise and it lets everyone save face a little bit.
posted by indiebass at 10:06 AM on February 15, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're awesome -- someone did this for me many years ago, and I still mist up in a good way just thinking about it (the donor remains a mystery.) They did what chrismear suggested, which was wise because they could be assured the envelope ended up physically in the right hands.
posted by bunji at 10:28 AM on February 15, 2008

I pulled this off once. In my case, I wanted a fast cash infusion without the recipient's awareness of the charity received. I made an over-the-counter deposit into the recipient's bank account. Handed the cash and a deposit slip with the recipient's name and address filled in, but missing the account number, to the teller. I had to explain a bit about what I was doing, but possibly because it wasn't a large sum (a few hundred), the teller looked up the account number and deposited it for me. I then 'lost' the deposit receipt among pile of bills at the recipient's house.
posted by MD06 at 11:39 AM on February 15, 2008

Be careful. I've done this before (anonymous bank money orders slipped under a door) and was found out. The recipient was able to track down the address of the bank branch office where the money orders were purchased via the serial numbers on the orders. Reverse lookup-ing the serial numbers was against bank policy, but a bank employee leaked the information anyway.

So if you use bank money orders, be sure to buy them in a major metropolitan area or a city/state/town that won't make your friend think of you.
posted by Izner Myletze at 11:39 AM on February 15, 2008

just a data point, 7-11s do Money Orders for cash, should be pretty untraceable.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:55 PM on February 15, 2008

I've been on both sides of this, but not anonymously. I would feel very uncomfortable around all my friends if I knew one of them was secretly slipping me cash, and to be honest, I would be a bit worried about "random money from strangers". I have however had a friend say to me at one point, "Look, I know you guys are a bit stuck at the moment, and right now I have more than I need. Please accept this, it would be my pleasure". It helped a lot. Recently, I had a couple extra bucks in, and some friends who were in a tight place, and I told them how the (mutual) friend had helped us out back when, and asked if I could "pay it forward" to them. I told them as well, that I consider them family, and family helps out. I am thrilled that they accepted. Retail-therapy-by-proxy I guess :)
posted by Iteki at 1:28 PM on February 15, 2008

Ehhm... sorry, I have done what Chrismear suggested and in the end it has always been tracked back to me.

The "friend" is often so impressed (or embarassed it is perceived as their idea) that they spill the beans in some way.

my experience suggests that the most effective way is to post cash in an envelope from some major connurbation, if you can't get there, post it to a work colleague in a different country and ask them to do it.
posted by Wilder at 1:54 PM on February 15, 2008

Coming late to the thread, but just to say that I've done this anonymously for a friend who needed money to buy prescriptions, etc., and we used an anonymous bank draft hand-dropped into the friend's mailbox (a lockable mailbox) while she was at work. We also included a typed note instructing her to "pay it forward" in the future. There was an email of thanks ("to whoever left me that really amazing present this morning") that went out to a bunch of her friends, us included, and that's where the matter rested, so I think it was successful. However, she'd had some history with receiving anon postcards so I think it wasn't too freaky.
posted by marginaliana at 10:59 AM on February 18, 2008

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