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.
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.
#10 — Turning Skills into Jobs
This article explains the charitable works of a non-profit organization called Global Artisans. The organization helps skilled refugees open their own businesses using their unique skills. The non-profit was founded by Ze Min Xiao, refugee services liaison for Salt Lake County in 2009.
In collaboration with the Utah Refugee Coalition and American Express, Xiao started Global Artisans to help refugees to put those skills to good use. On Thursdays and Saturdays, people from all over the world — Tibet, Iraq, Bhutan, Burma, Eretria — gather to knit, weave or sew together. To make their skills more applicable in an American market, Global Artisans offers business, finance and computer classes. [Read more...]
This article profiles the House of Hope, a residential rehabilitation facility. House of Hope is a government funded non-profit organization. Ten years ago the facility pioneered a family-centered approach to substance abuse treatment. This is often the last hope for addicted mothers and their children, who begin by residing at the facility and then report on an out-patient basis. Funding cuts have put the programs in danger.
The children manifest many problems due to the drug use of their parents. Some are physically impaired because their mothers used drugs during their pregnancies. Others are behaviorally impaired because their lives have been chaotic and insecure. (Read more…)
#8 — Pennies for Change
The internet is transforming the way people make charitable donations. While there are websites for large, well-known charities, the ease of building one’s own blog, website, or social media venue has enabled people to establish charities that work through very, very small donations. As a result, nonprofits are beginning to rely less on the rich.
Using social media members of the Millennial generation who are movers but not spenders are able to mount their own charitable campaigns. (Read more…)
#7 — It Takes a Village
Humanitarian projects that are mounted in third-world countries fare better when they have local leadership on site. In the early 1980s, James B. Mayfield trekked from village to village in Indonesia, tracking down projects planned and paid for by the World Bank and USAID. He found that over 80% of charitable projects had failed and fallen into disrepair and disuse. The people were waiting for the Americans to come back and fix everything. Mayfield decided to come up with a new idea — he founded CHOICE Humanitarian, a Utah-based nonprofit that builds schools, water systems and micro-enterprise programs in Africa, Latin America and Asia, he would insist: “The local people will lead the way.” (Read more…)
More than 5,100 children are in the foster care system because their parents have been detained or deported.
Twenty-two percent of the 397,000 illegal immigrants deported in 2011 were parents to U.S.-citizen children, compared to just 8 percent from 1998 to 2007. If deportations continue on trend, the ARC estimates the country will add 15,000 immigrant children to the foster care roles over the next five years.
Immigration policies and laws are built around the assumption that families will, and should, be reunited, but this is very complicated. (Read more…)
#5 — Hurting Charity
Obama and Congress are considering cutting back on tax deductions for charitable donations. Many charities worry donors will give less and needy people will go without. Because of the U.S. recession, donations are already down, and funding cuts have also hurt charities.
“People are struggling and donations are hard to come by,” said Steve Taylor, vice president of public policy at United Way Worldwide. “It’s the people at the bottom of the economic spectrum who were already hurt the most by the recession and, if these plans go through, they’ll be the ones to suffer again.” (Read more…)
Judges who are compassionate enough to listen to the accused, have an effect on their future behavior.
A judge’s disposition — whether respectful and caring or mean and disinterested — may make the difference between a trip back to prison and an addiction-free life for a drug offender.
In a study of 101 drug courts across the country, NPC Research discovered courts where the judge spends an average of three minutes or more speaking with each offender were more than twice as successful at keeping participants from reoffending. The reduction in recidivism increased as one-on-one time with the judge increased. (Read more…)
#3 — Seeds of Hope
Cindy Packard and her husband founded the nonprofit Care for Life, which has brought her back to Mozambique many times.
In the villages where Care for Life works, the death rate has dropped from an average of 22 deaths every six months to five. The percentage of people with adequate housing is up from less than half to an average of 85. Thirty percent more children attend school. Employment statistics have more than doubled. Adult literacy rates have increased from 50 to 77 percent. More than that, though, Care for Life seems to have discovered a formula for inspiring hope among the destitute and giving them tools to help themselves. (Read more…)
#2 — Water and Hope
This article profiles humanitarian aid work performed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often erroneously called the Mormon Church, in Seamay, Guatemala. In rural areas of Guatemala, clean water was scarce and almost half of all students failed the first grade.
…the coffee industry, once the backbone of Guatemala’s economy, had essentially collapsed in the mid-1990s when, due to deregulation and free trade, factory farms in places like Brazil and Vietnam flooded the global market with cheap beans, resulting in the loss of half a million jobs in Guatemala. Seamay had been hit particularly hard. (Read more…)
#1 — Stolen Innocence
The slave trade is alive and well in the United States of America, but some people are trying to stop it.
With job descriptions ranging in scope from prostitute to waiter to maid, more than 150,000 people in the United States are living in slavery, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Because of a deep-seated perception that slavery is a Third World issue, states have had a hard time getting the ball rolling on anti-trafficking initiatives. (Read more…)
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.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), contributed to disaster relief in 58 countries during 2010. The Welfare Services Emergency Response Report shows that the LDS Church responded to 119 disasters and provided millions of dollars in emergency aid.
Disasters worldwide claimed the lives of nearly 300,000 people in 2010, making it the deadliest year in the last 25. There were about 350 natural disasters. Two hundred million people were affected, and disasters caused about $100 billion worth of damage.
Earthquakes took center stage with temblors in Haiti and Chile, and New Zealand. The Mormon Church continues to send relief to Haiti. The most widespread type of disaster globally was flooding. Pakistan, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as Central America and northern South America, suffered from devastating floods, as has the United States. There were two major cholera outbreaks, one in Haiti and one in Papua New Guinea.
The humanitarian aid efforts of the Mormon Church are made possible through the generous donations of members and friends of the Church. One hundred percent of all contributions are used to help those in need.
It has been one year since the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti. Recovery has barely begun, set back by a serious cholera epidemic and non-existent government performance. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often the first on the ground and last to leave when natural disasters strike — relief work is still ongoing in southeast Asia many years after a tsunami took hundreds of thousands of lives. The Church is still providing relief in Haiti.
“We’re in as good or better of a place as any NGO,” said Lynn Samsel, the church’s director of humanitarian emergency response and community services. 
The Church has authorized the construction of a “bishop’s storehouse” in Haiti’s capital, Port au Prince. Though the Church has approved a ground-breaking for the building, Haitian government approval is still pending. Bishop’s storehouses have a supply of foodstuffs, clothing, and other necessities provided through the charity of the members of the Church. When people are in need, they may apply to the bishop of the local congregation. With the help of congregation leaders, the needy assess their needs and fill out an order form to be filled at the storehouse.
“Fast offerings” are used to finance charity for the poor who are members of the Church. Members fast for two meals on one Sunday each month, and then they donate the monetary value of the meals to the Church for the care of the poor. In Haiti, bishops of congregations are now obtaining supplies locally with the use of fast offerings.
The Church has also been trying to build temporary shelters, but only 10-15% of the rubble from the quake has been cleared. Because so many people died, and so many records were destroyed, it is often difficult to determine ownership of usable land.
The Church has been striving to rehabilitate its own members on the island. Three hundred fifty-six have been placed in jobs and 296 in self-employment. Business partnerships are continuing as others are being trained in new and much-needed skills, such as welding and construction. The Church is also investigating the possibility of creating church schools, since the infrastructure, including the education of children, crumbled along with homes and schools. In the meantime, the church has distributed thousands of school kits and has helped fund some training of new teachers in Haiti.
Clean water has been an important issue, brought to the eyes of the developed world by news of the outbreak of cholera. LDS humanitarian shipments have included shipping large water systems, water-filtration bottles and bags, soap and treatment products and prevention/education materials and supplies. The Church is also fine-tuning its medical aid response by studying the effectiveness of the original medical teams sent over immediately after the earthquake. The Church is learning which medical supplies are most needed, and how to coordinate staff pulled together from various locations.
LDS humanitarian aid to Haiti has included the following:
FOOD/WATER: 1 million pounds, 13 pallets of kitchen/cooking sets, 16,000 water-filtration bottles
MEDICAL: 25 pallets of medical supplies, 110,000 hygiene kits, 4,300 first-aid kits
SHELTER: 3,000 tents, 4,000 tarps
BEDDING: 13,000 blankets, 600 quilts, 48 cots,
COMFORT/CARE: 9,400 newborn kits, two pallets of toys
EDUCATION: 800 school kits
And later, specifically for cholera response, the LDS Church sent:
MEDICAL: five large medical tents
WATER: three large water-purification systems; 8,500 water-filtration bottles, with 5,000 extra filters; water-filtration bags and extra filters; water-filtration pumps and extra filters
HYGIENE: 390 cases of hand soap, 17,000 hygiene kits
EDUCATION: Cholera-education kits with instructions in French and Haitian Creole
In the United States, just one child of 20,000 is born without pigmentation, a condition called albinism. But in Kenya, the percentage is much higher due to intermarriage. The condition is caused by a recessive gene; one recessive gene from the father, and one from the mother, and an albino child is born. Some Africans believe that there is magic in the body parts of albinos, so there is an active black market for them (bringing $10,000 per child, and putting albino children at great risk).
Jami Quesenberry was a 47-year-old Mormon mother and homemaker who joined a charitable expedition to Kenya to help build schools. While there, she saw a native mother with an albino child. The child was in need of medical care because of her condition, plus ways to be protected from both violence and from the sun. Quesenberry’s heart was touched, but she didn’t know what she could do to help. Some months later, Koins for Kenya asked her to manage another expedition. Remembering the mother and child, she heard that Hussein Lumbambo, was starting a school for albino children in Kinandaongo, a safe school with a high-walled dormitory for the students. There had been a benefactor, but money had run out.
Quesenberry and her family went through their substantial amount of “stuff” and had a garage sale. She is looking for other ways to raise funds. There are probably 100 other albino children in the surrounding area. The mother she had seen actually had two. The father divorced her and chased her and the children with a machete. They had found refuge behind the walls of the school grounds. Word about the school and the protection it provides is getting around, and more children are being brought there. Koins for Kenya is seeking personal sponsors for the children.
Bret Van Leeuwen, an Alpine businessman and founder of Koins for Kenya, said the school for albino children is purposefully located in a village that’s not easily accessible. He said when the school opens in January, he expects 80 children but is prepared for 100. 
The South Provo homeless shelter is only about 30 miles from the Salt Lake City headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Brent Crane, executive director of the Food and Care Coalition received an e-mail from Church Humanitarian Services and LDS Charities in November, 2010, announcing a donation of $341,000. The donation would arrive immediately to go toward its transitional housing center in south Provo. The goal is to get more people off the streets this winter.
The homeless shelter still has not reached its goal of $700,000 in donations, but the offering from the Church is a big leap. Crane must prove that he has enough money to operate for one year before the board of directors will allow the upper floor to be opened to homeless singles and couples. The LDS Charities donation will be enough to finish off the living quarters that will house 26 homeless men and 12 homeless women.
The funds will go for construction and finishing materials and furnishings. The coalition leadership had contacted the LDS Charities several months ago. Funds come from the volutary donations of members of the Church.