Thursday, May 1, 2008

Humanitarian Aid

Since I was a kid, I remember seeing reports between sessions of General Conference about how much good the church was doing around the world, in regards to humanitarian aid. I was proud to be part of a church that gave so much to those in need. I assumed, as the true church, that our giving was beyond comparison. I was on the other day and ran into information about the church humanitarian aid donations that I thought was both interesting and sad.

Total church Membership – 12,868,606

Countries receiving humanitarian aid – 163

Humanitarian Cash Donations Since 1985 to 2007 – 259.8 million

Humanitarian material assistance since 1985 – 750.9 million

Total Humanitarian aid between 1985 to 2007 - $1,010,700,000

At first glance, it looks like a large sum of money. That is over 1 billion given in money and material since 1985 (22 years). I did some further math to break it down into something I could wrap my mind around. Here is what I came up with.

Aid given per year - $45,940,909.09

Per month - $3,828,409.09

Per member - $78.54 over 22 years ($3.57 per year)

Even in 1985, when I was 7 years old, I gave more than that to the church by way of tithing and fast offerings. Every Christmas, my 6 year old daughter gives more than $4.00 to the Red Cross just by dropping money into a red pail each and every time she walks past one. As an adult, I gave thousands a year and there are those that make enough to give tens of thousands to the church. Where is all that money going? The Mormon church does not release its financial records, which is another post for another day, so we cannot really know how much money they bring in and how much goes out. According to this Time Magazine article, the LDS church brings in around $5.2 Billion in tithing each year. If that is true, then the church gives less than 1% of the tithing it receives to humanitarian aid. In my opinion, that is not nearly enough.

I wanted to put this into perspective so I have looked up the charitable donations of other prominent businesses to see where they stand in comparison.

Target – “5% of our income goes to support education, social services, and the arts – which adds up to $3 million a week.” (That is $156 million a year, over 3 times what the church gives annually.)

Nike – “In fiscal years 2005 and 2006, Nike contributed more than $100 million in cash and products to nonprofit partners around the world.”

Wells Fargo – “In 2005, Wells Fargo contributed a record $95.2 million to over 15,000 non-profits nationwide. We thank our team members, who give hundreds of thousands of hours as volunteers, working to improve the well-being and economic self-sufficiency of our communities.”

Microsoft – “Sept. 21, 2006 — Today at Microsoft Corp.’s annual company meeting, Microsoft announced that the company has surpassed a mark that will not show up on a stock ticker or retail shelves. Since 1983, Microsoft and its employees have given more than $2.5 billion in cash, services and software to nonprofits around the world through localized, company-sponsored giving and volunteer campaigns.” (Double what the LDS church has done in basically the same amount of time.)

Now, I understand that Microsoft is a “super company” but Target, Nike and Wells Fargo all outdid the Mormon church. In a time where all we hear about is corporate greed, we see that what we are told can be deceiving. I have to tip my hat to those businesses and corporations who feel a moral responsibility to give back to the same communities that make then what they are and also to areas around the world that are in need. Certainly there are others that I did not look at that do the same.

The part that bothers me the most is that I have heard many times and very recently, “I don’t give to other charities because I already give my 10% to the church and they distribute it to charities they trust.” Unfortunately, according to their own statistics, only about $4 of their donations actually make it anywhere. That brings me to the point of this post.

Hey, Tommy Monson, where does all of the rest of the money go? I think you’ve got some explaining to do.


  1. looks to me like this one is far reaching...
    the humanitarian aid that the lds church gives is like none other.

    1. humanitarian aid in DOLLARS might not be enough (according to your skewed logic)... but what about all the humanitarian aid in MAN POWER? LDS humanitarian workers are VOLUNTEERS and that isn't counted in your little math equation. AND those humanitarian efforts have been highly esteemed by other entities - many of which try to model after the methods of the LDS CHURCH!

    2. humanitarian aid is only ONE portion of tithing. beyond all the obvious like missionary, BOM and temple construction, there is perpetual education... that is pretty humanitarian to me. the people who benifit from this (and i have actually met a few from far eastern countries) would consider this very humanitarian.

    3. fast offerings and stuff like bishop storehouses... i know of several families who have been completely subsidised by the lds church when they hit hard times. if only other churches would step up and take care of their congregations like that... imagine a world where the government wouldnt have to!!

    4. i heard that the church laid sewage and water pipes in hawaii... i imagine they do lots of things like that - quietly

    all those things are not added in your little HUMANITARIAN AID calculation.

    to say that the LDS church is not generous enough is completely falacious.

    LDS humanitarian aid has come to the rescue in SO MANY disasters all over the world. has there been a disaster where they havent given enough??? maybe their idea of humanitarian aid goes further than their pocketbooks... you make your whole argument lose a bit of weight with this post.
    you are comparing apples to oranges... and it doesnt work here for you.

    who is getting rich then? who is profiting from all this money?????

  2. Hows about some new tunes on the playlist? I know you have thousands, tens of thousands.

    I liked a lot of them!

  3. Anonymous,

    The information used in the post is directly from On this web site, there is a fact sheet that lists the number of man hours, store houses, and other services like that so I don't think it is a stretch to think those are included in the overall number. If the numbers they show do not include the items you mentioned, then it is by their own omission and not mine. Since the church refuses to release their financial reports, it is impossible to know if the points you talk of are included or not. I don’t doubt that the Mormon church does a lot of good. It is my claim however that they could/should be doing more. I think a church as large as they are should not be outdone by “Corporate America”. I think that it is sad that members of the LDS faith do not demand accountability from their leaders and trust that it is being managed properly. Would you like for more than $4 of your annual donations be used for humanitarian aid or are you ok with that amount?