Achieving Needful Things: Help USA for UNHCR Help Others

Yesterday, in an uncharacteristic–yea, wholly unprecedented–fit of introspection, the powers of BCC asked what we could be doing better. One follower responded that he would like “to see the intersection of the blog community and helping the poor and needy.”

And so, in the spirit of Elder Christofferson’s talk about the role of the Body of Christ in achieving needful things that individual members cannot, allow me to suggest as an initial response to this request that we head over to Kickstarter and multiply our efforts to help USA for UNHCR help the poor and needy affected by the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Middle East and Europe. You have until 13 October 2015 to donate as often as you like, and most fees usually associated with Kickstarter campaigns will be waived or donated.

Do any of our valued readers have additional suggestions about how to help?


As noted by a valued reader, donations to the Humanitarian Aid Fund administered by LDS Charities–which is partnering with, inter alia, UNHCR to address the European refugee crisis–can be made here for those preferring that modality.


  1. I agree that helping the needy is a worthwhile cause, but I would rather give my money to LDS Humaniarian efforts, which charges no overhead and does great work around the world including in Syria.

    Earlier this year Elder Holland and Sharon Eubanks (director of LDS Charities) were invited to England where he addressed parliament.

    The invitation cam from Baroness Emma Nicholson, chair of the AMAR charitable foundation (Assisting Marsh Arabs and Refugees). If her name sounds familiar, she spoke at BYU a few weeks ago. And she was very positive about the church’s contributions to helping the needy around the globe.

    So I guess I don’t understand why the recommendation to join an effort outside of the church rather than contribute to our church’s own established and effective efforts.

  2. It hadn’t occurred to me that readers would view this invitation as an either/or proposition, so allow me to clarify whey I think it’s a reasonable idea to do both. Even the Church contributes to other established and effective efforts where it lacks a meaningful presence (see my post linked above and again here for a current example), and the UNHCR is the international community’s collective effort operating on the front lines of the humanitarian crisis and fully accountable to UN member states.

  3. Our family holiday program will be assembling and donating a “welcome kit” for a refuge family. It’s a simple project that my young kids can help with.

    Naismith — the church often gives millions of dollars to other charities because those other charities have the established infrastructure in given areas when disaster strikes.

  4. *project, not program

  5. Naismith, perhaps because the Church doesn’t—and shouldn’t—do everything. There are a handful of charitable endeavors that the Church does and (to my understanding) does really well. But the Syrian refugee crisis isn’t one of those. Neither is Haitian relief, or any of a number of worthy causes. But the existence of the Church’s expertise doesn’t negate the need or the value of other causes.

    Moreover, it strikes me as valuable to be (individually) good citizens outside the shadow of the church.

    So by all means provide charitable relief through the Church. I’ve done it. But there’s no reason why that must—or even should—be our sole charitable conduit.

  6. Naismith, I personally feel better about giving to programs that are run by professionals and fully accountable for their spending – even if it includes overhead. Why is it so bad for people to make a living? The church does a lot of great things – but no overhead does not equal more effective or efficient, and should not be mistaken for such. As was clarified above, that is why the church often gives to more organized efforts.

    I think this a great effort!

  7. I totally agree that as church members we should be involved with causes outside the church; I serve on the board of a community organization and I fully appreciate the benefits therein.

    However, when it comes to online donations, I have felt saddened and frustrated that in the past when I have donated to a cause because a friend asked me to or in memory of a departed loved one or whatever specific thing, I find myself on that organization’s list or have my info sold to another organization, and I end up with glossy brochures in my mailbox…this goes on for years and even with non-profit rates, I am sure that over time they have spent more money soliciting me than I ever donated. Which seems rather wasteful. And which is why I am not as quick to respond to such requests as I used to be.

    Whereas LDS Humanirian efforts have never solicited. And I have every confidence that money donated there will help in trouble spots around the globe.

    I am not sure it is fair to say that the church does not do a good job of relief to Syrian refugees. LDS Charities has a memorandum of understanding as a partner with AMAR, which has an excellent reputation in providing relief to Syrian refugees. So if I can support the work of AMAR by donating to LDS Charities, why should I donate elsewhere?

    The OP did not mention that individual members can also contribute to LDS Charities as an option if they want to make a difference.

  8. The OP did not mention that individual members can also contribute to LDS Charities as an option if they want to make a difference.

    Right, because I assumed that a week-long initiative that started yesterday would be less familiar to readers than the usual channels known to most members of the church. I see that I may have been in error in assuming so, but thank you for responding to my call to share other suggestions. The OP has now been edited to highlight this option.

  9. Also, thank you ErinAnn for the link to a local option.

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