LDS Church topped $1B in charitable giving last year

Increase in aid comes amid rising scrutiny of the faith’s finances.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) A mother and child receive nourishment at the Ifo Refugee Camp in Garissa County, Kenya, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spent more than $1 billion worldwide helping those in need last year, eclipsing its 2021 spending by more than $100 million amid intensified scrutiny of the Utah-based faith’s finances.

That price tag covered aid for members and nonmembers alike, and included fast offerings, providing help from employment centers and food-processing facilities, charitable contributions, and donated commodities.

In an extended report released Wednesday and titled “Caring for Those in Need,” the governing First Presidency wrote that the church was blessed to have the resources and global connections to carry out the responsibility of providing such care.

“When we love God with all our hearts, he turns our hearts to the well-being of others in a beautiful, virtuous cycle,” stated church President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring. “Our world is filled with challenges of conflict, hunger, disease, disaster, poverty, pandemics and gaps in basic human needs. Whatever may come, we have faith and confidence in the goodness of people.”

The release of the annual report comes in the wake of headline-grabbing stories about the church’s wealth and increasing pressure from insiders and outsiders alike for leaders to be more transparent about the faith’s financial holdings and more generous in its charitable gifts.

Patrick Mason, head of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University, said the church’s contributions in 2022 represent an “impressive amount of money,” and show that the faith has become even more engaged and successful in the humanitarian field.

But Mason said the increase in spending from 2021, when the church shelled out $906 million on global aid, isn’t surprising.

“There’s a lot of growing expectations, especially with revelations about the church’s wealth,” Mason said, “that it spend that wealth on behalf of the public good and for good causes.”

Here’s how the church helped others throughout the world in 2022:

• $1.02 billion in aid.

• 6.3 million volunteer hours.

• 3,692 humanitarian projects.

• 190 countries and territories served.

• 174 refugee response projects.

• 11,030 welfare and self-reliance missionaries.

• 520 food security projects.

• 483 emergency response projects.

• 156 clean water projects.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Members of the Relief Society, the women's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, paint furniture at Caritas homeless refugee center in Friedrichsdorf and Frankfurt, Germany.

The church’s humanitarian efforts last year covered a swath of services that spanned every part of the globe.

When war erupted in Ukraine last year, European Latter-day Saints organized to make beds available — many in private homes — for thousands of people displaced by the fighting. Individual church members also served as translators to Ukrainians seeking safety in other countries.

The church, meanwhile, worked to ensure Ukrainian refugees had access to services to meet their immediate needs and spent nearly $17 million on aid in the war.

Missionaries in Canada drove six hours to small-town Minnesota to coordinate relief efforts after several floods. Over the next month, the proselytizers and other volunteers lugged sandbags to nearby homes and businesses.

Church officials put an emphasis on child nutrition, contributing $32 million to the United Nations World Food Program in what was the faith’s largest one–time contribution to a humanitarian organization.

“The church’s historic $32 million grant this year to World Food Program USA ... exemplifies how the church and its members live their faith daily and uphold the highest commitment to service,” Barron Segar, World Food Program USA president and CEO, said in the report. “The church’s generous philanthropy enables us to assist millions of families, providing them with stability and hope for a better future.”

In Africa and the Middle East, the church helped provide clean water to more than 646,000 people.

And in a project that enabled Syrian refugees to gain better access to schools, the faith assisted in creating preparation classes for a mandatory exam that students must pass to enroll in Lebanese public schools.

Church-operated farms, gardens, ranches, orchards and processing facilities, meanwhile, led to the distribution of nearly 50 million pounds of food to church members and others through bishops’ storehouses last year. The church donated another nearly 60 million pounds through other humanitarian organizations, including area food pantries.

The 2022 report marked the second year that the church has provided a wider view of its humanitarian efforts. Previous reports highlighted the efforts of Latter-day Saint Charities, the faith’s humanitarian arm.