How to give money anonymously to friends

Quite by accident today I came across a fascinating question.  If you know someone in the UK, who is struggling financially, just how, in practical terms, do you give them money? 

I’m not the first to ask this question.  The recession has kicked in, and some people are really struggling.  Others are doing OK.  And we all know what the bible has to say about giving.  But … how?

If I had a friend and offered him money, he’d almost certainly decline.  He wouldn’t want to be obligated.  If he accepted, it would probably change our relationship forever.  Or if I knew of a stranger who needed something, it would be even worse.

You can’t write a cheque, because your name will be on it.  These days  money-laundering legislation tends to make it impossible to obtain a cheque from a building society without a name on it.  And you wouldn’t want to post it anyway, because how do you get an acknowledgement that it has gone to the right place, and not been stolen by a postman?

Of course one could sneak up to their door, wearing a rubber Tony Blair mask, and stuff an envelope full of twenty pound notes through the door.  That would do it, for relatively small sums.  You could write on it something about “I don’t need this.  I believe that you do.  When the time comes, repay me by being generous to someone else.”  But of course this strategy is full of risks itself!

A google search reveals results entirely from the USA.  That is very creditable to the generosity of this nation; less so, to the generosity in the UK, or Australia, or wherever.

Anyone any ideas?

12 Responses to “How to give money anonymously to friends”


  1. Attila

    There is few better solution than cold, hard cash. Any other method and the gift will be taxed. This is the case in the USA. As you wrote, checks, and cashier’s checks (building society?), even money order can and will new tracked by the tax man…

    Gold, silver, our platinum coins, our even bouillons would work too. Much less liquid than cash, but much more stable as value…

  2. Roger Pearse

    Yes, of course the government’s tax collectors would cast greedy eyes on any money transferred to anyone else. What a world we live in.

  3. Erlend

    I’d put an envelope through the door when you are sure they are out.

  4. Roger Pearse

    Maybe. A long drive in some cases, tho.

  5. Maureen

    You could post an envelope containing cash, but wrapped in something else to give it the feel of a letter. (Or with a single bill that can’t be felt inside your cover letter, explaining that it’s a gift.) Post it from a town that is not your own. Fake return address or the recipient’s return address. Funny fake names are also a nice touch.

    Have fun!

  6. berenike

    Postal order? (do those still exist?) I haven’t used one since I was fifteen, but I think they’re anonymous in the sense you need.

  7. Roger Pearse

    I used to use these. But … I’m nervous of our post.

  8. Maureen

    Maybe you should talk to your local bank about it? I’m sure they have these things come up, and maybe they have some kind of money order.

  9. Roger Pearse

    That’s a good idea. It can’t be just me. Although it feels a bit funny, a bit self-advertising…!

  10. IG

    When I was a young struggling student, trying to make rent as well as study, a few kind anonymous souls left envelopes of cash in my post box or home grown vegetables on my door step. I will never forget their kindness even though I don’t know their names.

    Here where I live, if you know where someone banks you can deposit cash direct into their account (as long as you have enough details for the bank to correctly identify them; the bank will not and should not give you their personal details).

  11. Roger Pearse

    Thank you for that narrative. Perhaps envelopes of cash is the right answer. Did they write anything on these?

  12. Rob Flammang

    Before sending cash, talk to your banker.

    Here in the US, we have travelers’ checks, which might be your answer.

    We also have something called “wiring money”. I hear it mentioned in the movies a lot, but have no experience with it myself.

    You could also write a check to the bank, which will write a check to your beneficiary. The bank’s name will appear on it, but yours won’t.

    God bless you in your efforts.