Letter: People are happier when they can see the impact of their giving. The LDS Church should learn from that.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The sun rises on the temple of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019.

In 2013, Canadian researcher Elizabeth Dunn led a study to determine when charitable giving can lead to happiness. In her study, she pitted two similar and reputable charities, UNICEF and Spread the Net, against one another.

UNICEF’s broad mission is to help children in crisis. Spread the Net, on the other hand, also had a mission to help children, but with more specificity. They stated that for every $10 contributed, they would supply a child with a bug net for their bed to help prevent malaria. Her results showed that when people could see where their money was going, they contributed more, and they were happier giving to Spread the Net because they could see a tangible impact.

The LDS Church could learn a thing or two from this 2013 study.

People are happier when they can see the impact of their giving. Members would give more when they can see the tangible benefit. But when the LDS Church hides its finances, and ends up paying a $5 million dollar fine to the SEC for questionable practices, it leaves one to wonder if their contributions are really helping anyone.

How can anyone be happy to contribute 10% of their income, only to see fines levied for shady behavior? Not even Joseph Smith with his checkered financial record could attempt such mental gymnastics to incorporate opaque governance and finances into the plan of happiness. And if that’s the case, then what’s it all about anyway?

Landon Pope, Murray

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