Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church,” are well-known for their volunteerism, giving both service and funds in their church and their communities. In early 2012 the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released findings associated with a comprehensive study of Mormons. The focus was Mormon volunteerism, which was found to be far and beyond what most Americans, even very religious Americans give in terms of time and money.
An event was scheduled along with the release of the results of the study, called Mormons and Civic Life (read the transcript here), in which the results were discussed by those who mounted the study, scholars, members of the press, and others.
The findings of the study showed that while about 30% to 50% of Americans volunteer, they do it for about three to four hours a month. Studies by the Corporation for National and Community Service show that Utah has the highest rate of volunteering. Utah is the American state with the most Mormons. The Pew study (using a 14 page, very detailed questionnaire) showed that Mormons do much more on a monthly basis.
For religious activities, people give on average 242 hours. For church-affiliated volunteering to help meet social needs of people in the church, 96 hours. For church-affiliated activities helping people outside the church, 56 hours. And for activities outside of the church totally, 34 hours.
If we take the value of the hours volunteering for an average member of the Latter-day Saints, it’s about $9,140 annually. This is a major, major contribution.
When analyzing the giving habits of Mormons the Pew study divided “giving” into three types — secular giving (outside the Church), giving as tithing (10% of one’s increase), and giving to the Church over and beyond tithing.
For secular giving, meaning giving money to worthy causes outside of the church, an average person in the church gives $1,171. Giving to welfare through the church — $650. And on top of tithing — $203 per person for religious activities.
The first thing that I said about tithing — 88.8% of members of the church that we interviewed reported that they provide full tithing. Remember, we went to the church; people that we interviewed were active members of the church. They went to a Sunday service, and this is where we found them. Another about 6% said that they do partial tithing. The total social donation — I’m excluding now the religious donation outside — if we only take what they gave for social causes within the church and outside the church, we have $1,821.
To conclude, we found a group of people that are most generous in our society. Through their theology of obedience and sacrifice and strong commitment to tithing and service, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints are the most pro-social members in American society. We couldn’t believe the findings. But that’s what we have.
Discussed at the event was the remarkable fact that Mormons show up after every major disaster, ready to provide relief; that Mormons believe in preparedness and self-reliance; that there is a social structure within each congregation that binds members together and encourages them to provide more service. Most Mormons interviewed said that taking care of the poor and needy is a very important aspect of their faith.
The country of Malaysia consists of West Malaysia on the Malaysian peninsula, and East Malaysia, with the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the north side of the island of Borneo. Malaysia is unique in that there is little to fear from either earthquakes or storms. Even the devastating tsunami of December 2004 originating just west of Indonesia caused relatively minor damage and the loss of less than 60 lives. But there are ongoing needs in the country, and humanitarian aid missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have done much good in finding those needs and providing aid through The Church of Jesus Christ’s ongoing humanitarian efforts.
In early 2012 LDS senior Mormon missionaries, Kenneth and Gloria Larson, traveled to Tawau, Sabah, East Malaysia, where they have three current Humanitarian Projects. They are in the process of completing a vision project with the Rotary Club of Tawau, where they have distributed about 1500 pairs of eyeglasses to poor school children who live in villages in and around Tawau. They have also provided several pieces of new optical equipment which are portable and can be used for eye exams in these remote villages. They worked closely with Dr. Adjit who is the only ophthalmologist in the Tawau area, and a member of the Rotary Club, the partnering organization.
The Church of Jesus Christ is also working on a large water project with the Rotary Club of Tawau as its partner. This charitable project will supply clean water to a village of about 4,500 people. This village has a source of fresh spring water, but no way of supplying the village. The government built a small, unusable dam for them, but still no way of getting the water to the people. LDS Charities, in partnership with the Rotary Club, has built a bigger, better dam with two 10,000 liter storage tanks, a solar powered generator to pump the water to the storage tanks, and all new PVC pipes to take the water to the homes. The total cost for LDS Charities is $125,000-$150,000, all of it donated by caring Mormons and their friends of other faiths.
As part of the ongoing “wheel chair initiative” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, partnering in this case with Cheshire Homes and the Red Crescent Society, LDS Charities has donated 620 wheelchairs to Kota Kinabalu this year. Jennifer Liew of Cheshire Homes in Sabah has helped to distribute these chairs in Sandakan and Tawau. Red Crescent Society is helping to distribute these chairs in Tawau. The partnering local organizations must assure that recipients have been properly assessed for the correct size of the wheel chairs they receive, and are responsible to train recipients how to care for and use the chairs. For this, the partnering organizations receive training from LDS Humanitarian Aid missionaries.
An organization called Family Humanitarian Experience (Fhe) is serving hundreds of remote Q’eqchi’ villagers in the remote Polochic Valley of Guatemala and doing it right alongside their spouses and children.
FHe is a new 501(c)3 non-profit organization geared for LDS families who want to serve together and have spiritually uplifting experiences along the way. At the core of an FHe expedition are the training workshops which provide skills and knowledge to villages in the areas of medical and dental, economic development, and teacher training. There are also building projects and numerous cultural experiences that take place. 
Last summer seven FHe leaders joined with Singular Humanitarian and CHOICE Humanitarian to lay the groundwork for FHe’s expedition this July to Guatemala. CHOICE Humanitarian is a distinguished non-profit organization based in Salt Lake City with over 30 years of experience in sustainable village development. SHe is a sister organization to FHe for LDS single professionals that develops and provides curriculum and hands-on training to villages around the world in much the same way as FHe, focusing on the areas of business, healthcare, and education.
In July 2011 FHe and SHe worked together to train local volunteers to provide aid in Guatemalan villages. Aid includes the building of a hospital, enabling teachers to provide education, and health workers to provide care and instruction on sanitation and hygiene.
Families who serve with FHe will go home with deeper gratitude, a deeper love of mankind and for each other, and with the desire to not take anything for granted, especially relationships. This is the gift the Q’eqchi’ people give to us, the ability to love and live more deeply.”
FHe recently launched their website, www.familyhumanitarian.org, and will be closing registration soon for their expedition to Guatemala in early July 2012.
Earthquakes, a tsunami and massive flooding have combined to make 2011 the costliest year for natural disasters on record according to a recently released Welfare Services report of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). 
Disasters which occurred during the first half of the year caused $265 billion worth of damage. This broke the record set in 2005, the year that hurricane Katrina hit the southern states in America. The amount of damage caused by disasters in 2005 was approximately $220 billion. Japan’s earthquake and tsunami damage alone has been estimated at $235 billion.
The humanitarian services arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) offered help throughout the year. The LDS Church responded to 111 disasters in 50 countries, providing a total of $22 million in emergency aid and organizing thousands of volunteers through the Mormon Helping Hands program to assist those affected. In addition to natural disasters, east Africa experienced one of the worst droughts and famines in more than 60 years.
2012 is starting out to be another difficult year. The end of February and beginning of March yielded over 100 destructive tornadoes in the Midwest and southern U.S. states. The Church of Jesus Christ always has relief supplies standing at the ready to offer aid fast. Hygiene kits and other supplies were immediately shipped to stricken areas.
The Church of Jesus Christ participated in the following initiatives:
- After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, more than 250 tons of supplies were distributed during the first few months following the disaster, including food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene supplies, clothing and fuel. Twenty-two thousand Church-sponsored volunteers have provided more than 175,000 hours of service in Japan to date. The Church of Jesus Christ continues to give aid in Japan.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded to the famine in east Africa by committing $2.25 million in support of relief efforts. The Church partnered with Islamic Relief, International Medical Corps, International Relief and Development and other organizations to provide food, clean water and medical supplies.
- After a rash of violent tornadoes in the United States, the Church of Jesus Christ provided relief in 8 states, with 5,000 Latter-day Saint volunteers helping with cleanup efforts.
- In response to flooding in Thailand, church members in Thailand assembled food kits, sanitation kits, blankets, clothes and other relief items for those affected by the floods.
- In response to Hurricane Irene in the U.S., the Church provided 120 tons of relief supplies and 50,000 hours of service from more than 7,000 Church volunteers and missionaries.
In late January 2012 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes erroneously called the “Mormon Church,” opened a huge bishop’s storehouse in West Salt Lake City, Utah, as reported in the Deseret News. A Bishop’s Storehouse is similar to a general store supplied with food and basic needs for the poor and needy members of the LDS Church. The Church of Jesus Christ has a remarkable welfare program based on self-reliance that has been studied and used as an example by leaders all over the world.
This new bishop’s storehouse has 570,391 square feet and will also be used as a staging point for humanitarian aid shipped out worldwide when disasters strike. The Church of Jesus Christ has its own farms, orchards, vineyards, dairies, and ranches, and canneries operated by Mormon volunteers. The products from these concerns stock the shelves of bishop’s storehouses around the world, and fill boxes that stand ready to ship out for humanitarian aid.
The new facility in Salt Lake City has the capacity to store 65,000 pallets of food and supplies. The building was constructed for a single purpose — to enable the bishops of the church to meet the needs of the poor and needy.
The massive structure replaces the previous Bishops’ Central Storehouse, located on 1600 Wallace Road, and was paid for with LDS Church fast offering funds, which are earmarked to help those in need.
Ground was broken on the facility May 18, 2010, and construction began in July of that year. The facility, completed Oct. 7, 2011, was dedicated by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the LDS Church’s First Presidency.
The facility will be the central hub of the Church of Jesus Christ’s welfare efforts.
The facility also includes Deseret Transportation — which utilizes 43 tractors and 98 trailers and logs about 3.5 million miles per year delivering goods to some 110 church storehouses across the United States and Canada.
The storehouse includes a bulk storage area, rack storage and 63,000 square feet of freezer and cooler space that is humidity-controlled. The storehouse and preparedness system of the LDS Church is so efficient, that supplies can go out during the first incoming emergency phone call and be gone before the parties hang up. For example,
After Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States in 2005, the LDS church staged fully loaded semi-trucks from Texas to South Carolina. When the storm hit New Orleans, the emergency supplies were on site within 24 hours. Another 450 semi-trucks filled with food, water and other needed items were sent to the disaster zone from the Bishops’ Central Storehouse in Salt Lake City in the weeks after the emergency.
With many disasters and severe weather incidents, 2011 was an active year for Mormons’ church service around the world.
The earthquake and devastating tsunami in Japan was the worst disaster of the year, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent immediate aid and still continues to help. The LDS Church provided more than 250 tons of supplies, food, water, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing and fuel. Church-sponsored volunteers numbering over 20,000 have donated 175,000 hours of service in Japan. Church Humanitarian Services has worked with and continues to donate equipment and supplies to 20 of 54 fishing co-ops wiped out by the disaster. Latter-day Saints within Japan mobilized to help their stricken neighbors. Fifty-two Mormon meetinghouses were also damaged and have since been repaired.
Other disasters struck different parts of the world, which experienced flooding, landslides, earthquakes, tornadoes and a hurricane (Irene). They occurred in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Brazil and the Philippines, as well as the Midwest and southern United States. Latter-day Saints in each of these areas also donated their time and efforts. “Mormon Helping Hands” is the name of groups of Mormons gathered to help in relief efforts on the ground. They can mobilize locally or travel, sometimes at their own expense.
In Germany, 9,000 Latter-day Saints and their neighbors worked side-by-side to donate 34,000 hours in support of children battling cancer. (Read about other Mormon Helping Hands projects.)
2011 was the tenth anniversary of the formation of the Perpetual Education Fund, funded by donations from Latter-day Saints. This fund helps with schooling expenses for returned-missionaries from impoverished countries. The money is loaned to them, so they can afford advanced education. The loan is paid back as they join the work force, and then loaned to the next worthy young person. Thousands have achieved better employment through this program since its inception.
Eight months after the earthquake and tsunami hit in Japan, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths, the “Mormon Church”) contributed donations to the fishermen of Kuji and the small village of Noda Mura in Japan.
The fisherman in those cities were devastated when the tsunami destroyed almost all of their equipment. The Church donated “three trucks, 4,500 nets, 3,000 octopus cages and various other fishing supplies to the local fishermen’s cooperative” to the city of Kuji, and “trucks with refrigeration equipment and fish tanks, a fork lift, a large-volume digital scale and 70 large containers for hauling the day’s catch” in Noda Mura. In Kuji, the head of the fisherman’s co-op, Kenichiro Saikachi, thanked the Church saying, “For us who received the shock of this great disaster, the donation today from your church is a reassuring act of kindness.” This is a part of the ongoing effort of the Church in contributing to the welfare of those affected by the disaster in Japan. “Both the mayor and the head of the co-op were visibly moved by the help they had received from people they were not aware of before the earthquake and tsunami.”
To read the full story, please visit the official Mormon news website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Learn more about the Church humanitarian aid program.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths, the “Mormon Church”) is working together with other organizations, to assist in drought relief efforts in Africa. Millions are in need of assistance as the past several years have been harsh drought conditions. The Church partnering to provide water, hygiene kits, medical supplies, as well as medical training. the Church is also working on projects in the future that would help the people of Africa be more self-reliant. These projects include digging wells, installing pumps, and sanitizing water. This example of assistance given by the Church and other organizations, shows that there is a great need for additional Christ like assistance around the world.
With an estimated 13 million people in Eastern Africa in need of assistance, the conditions there being the driest recorded in the past 50 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is working with various other organizations to coordinate the distribution of aid in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda.
In Dadaab, Kenya, the world’s largest complex of refugee camps is already full, with an estimated half million people living there. Tens of thousands of people are living outside of the complex due to lack of space and supplies. In September, an average of 1,000 people arrived each day.
For a full report, please visit the official Mormon news website for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”)
Brigham Young University engineering students have created a well-drilling system that works on manpower. The drill is inexpensive, easy to operate and easy to move.
Other water-drilling alternatives in the region either can’t dig deep enough or cost too much, sometimes upwards of $15,000. But the team’s device has the potential to drill a 150- to 250-foot-deep hole in a matter of days—all for about $2,000.  The team created the drill for WHOLives.org, a nonprofit dedicated to providing clean water, better health and more opportunities to people living in impoverished communities. The organization is currently focusing its drilling efforts on Tanzania, but it has plans to expand its operations to other countries. The project is also co-sponsored by the Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology.
The drill can be operated by four people. The project has the potential to affect millions of lives. For official LDS news and updates regarding humanitarian efforts in Africa and other parts of the world, as well as world reports on Church events, visit the LDS Newsroom.
An article on Mormons in Business dot org talks about Russell Ellwanger, who currently lives in Israel and is the CEO of TowerJazz, a publicly traded semiconductor company on NASDAQ. TowerJazz is headquartered near Nazareth, Israel, with a U.S subsidiary located in Newport Beach, California and facilities in China and Japan. Margret, his German wife (whom he met on a mission to Germany, where she was also serving) spends nearly all of her time and resources managing the various charitable projects of forPeace. Those projects now serve hundreds of thousands in Israel, Cambodia, and now Kenya. The programs are innovative and therefore amazingly successful.
Micro-Loans? Try Micro-Savings?
Margret believes that the micro-loan programs functioning in many third-world countries get families off on the wrong foot from day one of their involvement. Her incredible projects in Cambodia begin with micro-savings, and have allowed 1.5 million Cambodians to lift themselves from poverty into the middle class. Currently, nearly 300,000 Khmer Cambodians are participating.
One of the reasons for the success of Marget’s charities is that there is no “rich big-brother” looking down on the needy, and no do-gooders going in and doing a project, then departing. The latter means that the project breaks down and becomes derelict, while the former ends up being no real help at all. The forPEACE organization has locals and permanent residents on the ground where help is needed. They are always there with consistent help. Also, the programs are self-driven.
The initiative in Cambodia is called “Tabitha,” named after a biblical woman who went around doing good. Tabitha was founded in 1994 by Canadian Janne Ritskeswith a goal to restore Khmer people hope and confidence and enable the poorest of the poor in Cambodia to improve their health, living conditions, and lifestyle. Here is a brief explanation of how the micro-savings program works.
The program has four main phases: The micro-savings program to teach money management principles; cottage industry to teach job skills and to generate paid positions; the building of wells to provide families with clean water to improve health and living conditions; and house building, to improve family comfort and living conditions. By the time a family works through the four phases, they have moved from abject poverty to the middle class.
In the beginning, the family sets a goal to save 25 cents each week. Every member of the family works hard to reach this goal, with everyone, even the children, participating. At the end of 10 weeks, the family has saved $2.50. Tabitha employees visit enrolled families each week and collect their savings. After 10 weeks, Tabitha pays the family 10% interest, $0.25,
bringing their total to $2.75. Each family then decides what to do with their savings. Many buy 5 baby chicks at $0.50 each.
After 10 more weeks of saving, families have another $2.75 to decide how to spend. They sell the chickens they raised free range for $10 each. With $52.75 they often buy: A sack of rice – 50 kilos for $40.00; 20 more chicks – $10.00; Second hand clothes for their children. As situations improve, families begin to save 50 cents each week. Now families are able to buy and sell more chickens at a profit. Eventually, they have just over $200, enough to purchase 30 chickens, or two pigs, or seeds to grow produce (making the family healthier, and to sell for profit), or clothes for everyone, or for rice. Some choose to save $15.00 toward the cost of a well.
Families increase their savings to $5.00 each week. They continue to earn 10% interest from forPEACE, funded by donations. At the next phase, they may purchase a water pump, buy more chickens, save more toward the cost of a well, or cultivate a garden. Families are now selling chickens, pigs, and produce, clothing the entire family, and have a well for clean water. They begin to consider building a real house, after living in a hovel or out in the open.
Some families enter the cottage industries established by forPEACE, especially the silk-weaving industry, which creates and sells gorgeous, high-quality purses, scarves, and other precious items. Now the children can go to schools (forPEACE is building schools, too), and the family can purchase pots and pans, cement posts for a house, and a bicycle for use in their businesses. When families are self-sufficient, after about five years of 10-week cycles, they graduate from the Tabitha Savings Program, and have built a house costing under $1,000. Tabitha sponsors house-building trips for volunteers who want to come help build houses. When volunteers arrive, the footings are already in place, and they are trained by the Khmer.
The family-run businesses include produce and livestock farms; transportation businesses; roadside stores and vendors; silversmith shops;
and the silk weaving, the largest cottage industry. Each village weaving
leader negotiates and purchases silk from silkworm farmers. Tabitha weavers dye, spin, and weave the silk. Silk fabric is transported to seamstresses. Some women sew in their villages. Others commute to Tabitha headquarters in Phnom Penh.
There are many benefits from these cottage industries: Silk sales pay for 80% of Tabitha administrative costs; Cambodians learn to take pride in Cambodian products; and women are given the opportunity to earn a
respectable living. Tabitha has built over 7,000 wells and 200 ponds and
has completed 9 schools. Over 10,000 volunteers from across the globe have helped build over 4,000 houses.
In Israel, Margret works with Israeli Arabs in Nazareth to lift their educational accomplishments, which lag behind their Jewish counterparts. Some projects aim to bring together Arab and Israeli youth to increase understanding. In the Negev desert in southern Israel, formerly nomadic Beduouin women engage in cottage industries such as weaving and creating herbal products to forward the literacy of Bedouin women.
In Kenya, forPEACE is partnering with Global Outreach and building an internet cafe and guesthouse in western Kenya, connecting rural villages with the world through cyberspace.