How Seinfeld Invented The Human Fund, George's Fake Charity

It’s that holiday time of year again, and one of the best ways to keep merry and bright, no matter what denomination, is to remember all of those holidays from TV land that aren’t actually Christmas. One particularly fun non-Christmas holiday was Seinfeld’s Festivus, which always brought out the non-holiday cheer in George Costanza. Not satisfied by a charity donation in lieu of a Christmas gift from a coworker, George came up with a way to get out of buying presents en masse: a fake charity. Former Seinfeld writer Alex Berg has the story behind George’s donations to the non-existent “Human Fund.”

In an interview with Uproxx, Berg had this to say about the Human Fund:

Every Christmas, Castle Rock would send everybody a card saying, ‘A donation has been made in your name to a charity.’ We always wondered how much they had donated, and if it was made in our name, why couldn’t we use the tax write-off? That became a running joke in the office. George realized that really the scam is that he doesn’t have to give gifts anymore. He can just send cards saying, ‘A donation has been made in your name,’ to a made-up charity. That’s how that came about. Let’s make up a charity that nobody could possibly bust you on, that’s so generic. So, that was the Human Fund.

Ah, yes, the Human Fund. The perfect way to give obligatory gifts to acquaintances without spending money beyond what it takes to print special stationary. What coworkers could possibly object to having a donation in their name made to a charity whose slogan is “money for people?” People need money more than Yankees tickets, that’s for sure, and there’s really no loser when it comes to a fake charity not being given money.

Of course, the Human Fund is much funnier and far less vaguely despicable when Jason Alexander gleefully explains his scheme to Jerry Seinfeld. Check out the clip!

The funniest jokes on television really can be the ones ripped from real life, and the writers bringing a running joke about the inadequacies of charity Christmas presents based on gifts from their production company was a perfect addition to the show about nothing. The Human Fund has unfortunately now made it impossible not to wonder if Christmas presents or wedding favors or birthday gifts to charities are actually scams from penny-pinchers, but is there really a price that can be put on long-lasting humor?

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).