Please help!

Navel-gazing and other bloggernacle festivities are great fun.  But we need to do something to help those suffering in the wake of the south asian tsunamis.  This is the worst natural disaster in recorded history; what will the Mormons do to help?  The Church, through its Provident Living webpage, has some resources on how to help — primarily, through donations to the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund.  See here.  That’s a great place to start.

We can do more and act through quicker means than the Church’s humanitarian efforts.  The Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) has some helpful hints on how to help — basically, keep your canned goods in your food storage locker — send money, now.  While many hubs are available to take donations, I would recommend the Red Cross, Unicef USA, or even WorldVision.  American mormons are the richest, most blessed people in the world.  Heaven forgive us if we don’t do something to help the millions affected by this disaster.

Comments

  1. If you needed more prodding, the Prophet has officially commanded you to help. See here.

  2. I read, and commend, the FP statement. Anyone know how to make sure one’s fast offering goes to a specific cause (i.e. the tsunami relief)? Whilst I would encourage all members to pay a generous fast offering, I would also suggest that you give to the agencies that Steve lists.

  3. Ronan,

    I don’t believe the Church permits you to donate to a specific crisis unless there is a fund designated for it already. the best we have right now is the general relief fund. That’s why I recommend the other agencies as well.

  4. Does the church give an accounting of the Fast Offering funds?

  5. The death-toll has jumped (according to a CNN article) to as high as 116,000. Here’s a link:

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/30/asia.quake/index.html

  6. john fowles says:

    To be the most effective in your spending, I would suggest using charities with extensive networks already in place in the target countries, such as the Catholic Relief Society, Oxfam, or Americares.

  7. All of those are good picks too JF — Oxfam is a great one. I’m pretty sure that the Red Cross is well-established in south asia, as well as unicef, but it can’t hurt to help in more than one spot.

  8. john fowles says:

    Very true. By listing those three, I wasn’t implying that the ones you listed weren’t just as good! They all are well established and have very good networks in place.

  9. Sumer,
    Does the Church give an accounting of tithing funds?

  10. Summer,

    It depends on what you mean by “Church” and “give an accounting of.” If you mean, are the details of fast offering use publicly disclosed by Church HQ or local leaders, then the answer is no. If you mean, “is there accountability and record keeping with regard to how funds are spent” the answer is yes. Thus, local leaders who recieve and disperse tithing and fast offering funds keep detailed records of all of these transactions which are then reported to higher authorities. (One of the joys of my recent return to Church book keeping is that I get to work on preparing such reports every Sunday.)

    In other words, there are pretty good controls and accountability internally on the dispersment of Church funds. By and large fast offerings go precisely where the Church says that they go, namely to needy members in local congregations and stakes. There is not — of course — public transparency.

  11. Frank McIntyre says:

    There is a place on the tithing slip for “humanitarian aid” which is usually slated for circumstances such as this. The Church could certainly use Fast Offering funds as well, but as a rule of thumb, “Humanitarian Aid” money tends to be for international, non-member efforts. Fast Offerings tends more to be for helping local members in trouble.

    And to second Nate’s comments, the Church keeps very careful records on how the money is spent.

  12. Frank McIntyre says:

    There is a place on the tithing slip for “humanitarian aid” which is usually slated for circumstances such as this. The Church could certainly use Fast Offering funds as well, but as a rule of thumb, “Humanitarian Aid” money tends to be for international, non-member efforts. Fast Offerings tends more to be for helping local members in trouble.

    And to second Nate’s comments, the Church keeps very careful records on how the money is spent.

  13. The problem with the very careful records is they don’t show them to anyone who contributes, so you just have to take the Church’s word for it they exist.

  14. While the church has improved its service organizations a lot the past 10 years, I suspect it will still donate a lot of its money via the Catholic relief agencies.

    BTW – an easy way to donate to the Red Cross is at Amazon. Since we’ve all bought through Amazon before you’ll already have an account setup and can donate in about a single click. They’ve already raised 2 million dollars.

    I suspect I’ll donate via fast offerings myself.

  15. By ‘give an accounting’ I meant does the church make this information available to the general public. It seems as if the answer is no. I knew that the details of where tithing went to is unpublished, I just was curious if the same went for fast offerings.

    I wonder why the secrecy here. The Red Cross makes its financial statements available online at their website.

  16. Gosh, Sumer–don’t you have any faith? You want to actually *think* about your charitable giving?

  17. Our mission gave us some insight into the tremendous involvment the church has in humanitarian efforts world-wide. In past disasters the church has been asked to ‘partner up’ with the Red Cross, as one example. There have been cases where church members in areas hit were used to distribute the incoming donations because there is an infrastructure already in place.

  18. Steve-

    Thanks for putting it those terms.

  19. Steve, I’m curious why you think “We can do more and act through quicker means than the Church’s humanitarian efforts.” You seem to think that a dollar donated will go farther or help more quickly if donated through the other organizations.

    I have no experience in comparing the church’s welfare and humanitarian organizations with the others, but I have had this conversation before with my friends studying social work who are convinced that the church’s program is far superior to these others, that they operate significantly more efficiently with less overhead and get a lot more done. They have even studied the church’s model in their social work classes at Columbia.

    Since I am most concerned, after tithing and fast offerings, with donating to the organizations where the largest percentage of my dollar will reach those who need it, I have always assumed that the church’s humanitarian fund was the best place . . . but maybe I’m wrong.

  20. Blaine, I think the problem is, as Sumer has hinted, that we just don’t have enough information about how the LDS Foundation works–maybe your friends at Columbia have access to more information than we do. The church makes public far less information about its operations and financial decisions than most charities, so I don’t think there’s any way we could know. The FP letter read over the pulpit today suggested that the church is working under the umbrella of other organizations. However, I think many Mormons normally restrict their charitable giving entirely to tithing and fast offerings, and it’s great that the Humanitarian Fund exists to help them feel comfortable broadening the scope of their giving.

    We will give a bigger than usual fast offering this month, but I admit that I would feel better about that if the church disclosed what portion of the extra funds collected through today’s fast were going to be donated directly to tsunami relief. (Can you tell I really like control?)

Trackbacks

  1. First Presidency Urges Generous Support for Asian Victims.

    http://lds.org/newsroom/showrelease/0,15503,3881-1-20741,00.html

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