Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas
Question: Is it better to pay Zakat to a local masjid or to a charity? Also, can it be done in installments?
Answer: assalamu `alaykum
Zakat must be given to an actual poor person. You may give your Zakat to a mosque or charity only if they act in the capacity of an agent who disperse the zakat given to them to poor individuals. Please see:
As for giving Zakat in installments, this would seem to be permissible as long as: (a) there is no undue delay, which is defined as more than one year, in paying the complete amount one owes in Zakat after it becomes obligatory, and (b) one intends, whether actually or effectively, paying Zakat upon disbursing each installment. [Ibn `Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani