Q. In the shul I daven the tzedaka collectors sometimes don’t wait until you find some change to give them, since for them time is of the essence and they have to move along. After I do find the money and the collector is gone, since in tzedaka, thought is what counts, do I have to run after him since I had already made up my mind as to what to give and to whom? What if I can’t find him, do I have to give that money to another similar tzedaka?
A. See similar questions 1849 and 1850. Remah (Y.D. 258: 13) rules that one becomes obliged to give to charity just by truly committing himself in his mind to donate. Although, there are dissenting views, as in Shulchan Aruch, (C.M. 212: 8, see Piskei Teshuva Y.D. ibid. et.al.) one should be stringent when there was indeed a real serious commitment, even if only in one’s mind.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is that in your case since as you mentioned, sometimes the collectors don’t wait, therefore your commitment may not be that serious and it does not necessarily become a neder.
The Rov added in the prior questions that one should always be “Mosser Modoah” or declare, preferably in front of the beis din when he makes hattoras nedorim or the annulment of past oaths, vows and pledges on Erev Rosh Hashana, that any future commitments and pledges done for charity, even done only on ones mind, should not be counted as a nedder or an oath. One can do that declaration any time and does not need be necessarily in front of a beis din or court of three.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as revised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a.