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$8 per member per year on humanitarian aid

I’m filled with regret. Using numbers they reported for humanitarian aid and membership over the last 24 25 years, the LDS church has spent (approximately) a whopping $8 per member per year on their humanitarian efforts. (via

If we use more generous numbers (assuming that there was an average of only 2 million active members over that time period, only a million of whom lived in the US (an approximate surrogate for wealth), only 500,000 of whom were working adults with an income), then humanitarian aid from the church to to non-Mormons jumps to a ballpark figure of $25 $100 per wealthy member per year.

I hope that I’m missing something. This is pathetic, especially coming from a church which is building a $3 billion (or more) mall in the heart of Salt Lake City. All of that money spent on real estate, cattle ranches, malls, political campaigning, etc. Instead of hoarding and building up an financial and political empire, they could have done some actual good.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” I think the LDS church has forgotten what it is to go without purse or scrip. The institution has become entangled in seeking the riches of the world.

I was a full-tithe payer from the day I got my first allowance from Mom and Dad to the day I stopped attending the LDS church three years ago. I was happy to donate it because I trusted that it was in the best hands, that my money would do good in the world. This has, like nothing else, made me deeply regret all of that money that I donated, wasted.

Edit: Reworked the numbers and corrected.

Edit2: 1984-2009 inclusive. Thanks, Kari.


  1. Sunday in Outer Blogness: Family Edition! | Main Street Plaza said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 9:23 am

    [...] on from families to general Mormon topics, Jonathan did a bit of number crunching, and found that tithing to the CoJCoL-dS is not a terribly efficient way of giving humanitarian [...]

  2. Craig said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

    I’ve been pretty horrified by this since I found about it after I left the church. Any and all humanitarian effort on the church’s part is nothing but lip service. They could probably single-handedly bail out the entirety of Haiti if they wanted. But they’d rather spend their money on pretty buildings and malls.

    No doubt Jesus would be proud. At least their (ruthless capitalist) version of him.

  3. Jonathan said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

    Have you seen Supply Side Jesus?

  4. chanson said,

    June 13, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    I’ve seen that one before, but it’s always funny!

  5. Anonymous said,

    July 8, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    You hoped (?) you were missing something and you might have missed that half the members are not working adults, some are children, so it would not be half. How about the recent news that Utah has the most volunteer hours of any state 4 years running, followed by Indiana, where I lived before.

  6. Anonymous said,

    July 8, 2010 @ 1:23 am

    A polygamist tried to convert me by saying my mission should have been without purse…. But I countered with:

    Luke 22: 35-36
    35 And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
    36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

    There are times and seasons and changing circumstances.

  7. Anonymous said,

    July 8, 2010 @ 1:30 am

    A lot of what is given from handmade quilts to purchased toothbrushes may not be in the numbers, not to mentioned donated time. Meaning scout projects and the like where members give directly without going through the Church. Like my neighbor who works serving lunch at the Provo soup kitchen very regularly, but no money is exchanged.

    With the cost of children, which we tend to have more of than the average, some of us are not so rich in the net after expenses. After bills I find I have less discretionary spending than many of my South American friends (which is just bizarre when you compare our salaries). Perhaps society or communities are just set up wrongly here.

  8. Jonathan said,

    July 8, 2010 @ 8:05 am

    I’m not concerned about volunteer work done by Mormons. I’m concerned with how the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses all of that money that LDS folks send them.

    In adjusting the numbers down, I was quite generous to the LDS church.

    My hope is that I’ve got it all wrong and the money I donated wasn’t wasted on more and fancier church buildings, church for-profit ventures, etc. Is my hope naïve?

  9. Kari said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 12:45 pm


    Just a quick correction. The fact sheet is for 1985-2009, inclusive, meaning it’s 25 years worth of data. Not that it changes the numbers much.

    And for anonymous, the value of those handmade quilts are accounted for in “value of material assistance.” It wouldn’t surprise me if the church counted the value of man-hours in this number as well.

  10. Jonathan said,

    September 21, 2010 @ 2:01 pm

    Thanks, Kari. I’ll correct the number of years in a moment, though it only decreases the numbers to 96% of their current value. That’s not much of a change given that we’re guesstimating.

  11. NT said,

    January 10, 2011 @ 8:31 pm

    Great Blog, gonna vote for it! Former Bishop and SP member. The HA fund is counted in the following manner by the lds org. Time, donation by the members in kind (if the member is donating something for the kid the church takes the benefit of the donation), a administration amount is added depending on the effort, shipping cost paid by the LDS church is also included. In other words, if a RS organization makes hygeine kits and donates them, then entire cost of the kit and labor is donated by the RS group, but counted in the actual dollar value of the donation.

    The agreement is that the church will pay the shipping, and the unit will cover the cost of the kit and labor but the church counts the dollar value of both.

    More number crunching…25 years of HA service by the church 1.2 Billion (their numbers including free labor and materials)

    The big shopping mall in SLC somewhere in the $3-5 Billion range.

    Sad, shameful, and twisting the numbers to their advantage.

    And we all keep paying more and more and more and more and more

  12. Jonathan said,

    January 11, 2011 @ 8:01 am

    Interesting. It’s worse than I though. Thanks, NT. :)

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