Humanitarian Efforts

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The Humanitarian Aid program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is distinct from its Welfare program.

H. David Burton, the thirteenth Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1995 to 2012 taught, "Modern-day humanitarian effort is a wonderful manifestation of the charity that burns within the souls of those whose hearts are tender and whose hands are willing to help. This selfless service truly demonstrates the pure love of Christ."

Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 12 March 1995, until his death on 27 January 2008, taught, "Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others ... By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides aid and assistance to those in need all around the world, no matter what their religion or beliefs.

For example, The Church of Jesus Christ gave US$44 million in 2023 to support the wide-ranging global hunger relief efforts of CARE, Catholic Relief Services, Helen Keller Intl, The Hunger Project, and several other organizations. This is in addition to last year’s donations to the World Food Programme ($32 million) and UNICEF’s No Time to Waste initiative ($5 million).[1]

“Responding to the growing levels of child malnutrition is a key humanitarian priority for the Church,” said Blaine R. Maxfield, managing director of the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services. “Our collaboration with these organizations helps provide relief to vulnerable children and mothers worldwide. These joint efforts will bless nearly 2 million lives in 30 countries. This response demonstrates our commitment to the two great commandments. We show our love to God by reaching out to care for His children, whatever their location or background.”

In his October 2022 General Conference talk, President Dallin H. Oaks introduced his message about helping the poor and distressed by noting the expenditures of the Church of Jesus Christ for the year 2021:

A few months ago, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reported for the first time the extent of our humanitarian work worldwide. Our 2021 expenditures for those in need in 188 countries worldwide totaled $906 million—almost a billion dollars. In addition, our members volunteered over 6 million hours of labor in the same cause.
Those figures are, of course, an incomplete report of our giving and helping. They do not include the personal services our members give individually as they minister to one another in called positions and voluntary member-to-member service. And our 2021 report makes no mention of what our members do individually through innumerable charitable organizations not formally connected with our Church.[2]

Philanthropies is a department of the Office of the Presiding Bishopric of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is responsible for coordinating the funds donated to the Church for humanitarian aid and other educational and charitable purposes.

Most of the funds donated through Philanthropies are given by members of the Church. Members have been taught that Christ was the perfect example and that He provided service and help to those in need.


In the Book of Mormon in Moroni 7:47 we learn that charity is the pure love of Christ, and those who express charity in their daily lives can find peace and happiness. Joseph B. Wirthlin, a former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught, "Nothing you do makes much of a difference if you do not have charity. You can speak with tongues, have the gift of prophecy, understand all mysteries, and possess all knowledge; even if you have the faith to move mountains, without charity it won't profit you at all ... Without charity—or the pure love of Christ—whatever else we accomplish matters little. With it, all else becomes vibrant and alive. When we inspire and teach others to fill their hearts with love, obedience flows from the inside out in [our] voluntary acts of self-sacrifice and service" (Ensign, November 2007, 28–31 [3]).

King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon in Mosiah 2:17 in his powerful sermon taught the people, "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Later in his treatise, he exhorts the people, "For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? ... And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another" Mosiah 4:19-21.

Humanitarian Services

The Church's efforts through Philanthropies include Humanitarian Services, as well as programs to help people around the world attain better education and find employment opportunities in their area. Humanitarian Services is just one department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints served by Philanthropies. The Church throughout its history has always provided for those in need, but the first permanent humanitarian organization of the Church was created in 1955 at Brigham Young University.

In explaining where the money comes from to fund these programs, Gerald Caussé, the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said:

By way of explanation, the humanitarian fund covers the Church’s response to disasters and its core humanitarian programs—such as wheelchairs, clean water, and vision care—throughout the world. Fast offerings, on the other hand, provide the funds which bishops use to take care of the individual needs of families in their congregations. These contributions derive their name from Church members' practice of fasting—or going without meals—for one day each month and then donating the money that they saved from those uneaten meals. Their donations come from their belief to put into action what Christ taught to "love thy neighbor as thyself."

Humanitarian service may include emergency response to natural or man-made disasters. It may also be part of a longer-term effort to meet serious and more entrenched human needs, such as alleviating disease. Humanitarian efforts are also supported through nine signature programs of Latter-day Saint Charities:

  • Food Security
  • Clean Water and Sanitation
  • Community Projects
  • Emergency Response
  • Immigrant Services
  • Immunization
  • Maternal and Newborn Care
  • Refugee Response
  • Vision Care
  • Wheelchairs

One hundred percent of donations are used for humanitarian efforts. The Church absorbs its own overhead costs and utilizes a global network of volunteers, who generously contribute their time and expertise. Volunteers often live in the communities in which they serve. Money and items can also be donated to the Humanitarian Aid Fund where the money or supplies are then given to an area that is in need.

Latter-day Saint Refugee Response

Refugee Response is one of the greatest humanitarian crises that the world faces. In the past decade alone, 100 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Of that number, 67% remain in their country of origin but lack the basic necessities to adequately sustain life, and the other 33% — half under the age of 18 — are forced to flee their country. It is estimated that 53% of displaced people come from the countries of Syria, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.

Emergency Response is the part of the Church’s humanitarian efforts that most people are aware of. Funds and supplies in this area are used to help victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, droughts, tornados, and hurricanes, as well as other disasters due to wars or political unrest. Supplies in this area are gathered and stored before a crisis so that supplies can be sent within literally hours of an emergency. Volunteers are also on call so that if they are needed they can be reached and organized within a few hours.

Wheelchair Distribution is also crucial to helping those in need. Studies estimate that only one percent of people in the world who are physically disabled have a wheelchair. For the rest, being without a wheelchair means that adults cannot provide for themselves or their families, and children are often unable to attend school. By providing wheelchairs to those in need, the Church is able to give the lifelong gifts of self-reliance, education, and even self-respect.

The Clean Water service provides clean water and wells to people who otherwise would most likely contract deadly diseases because of polluted water. Studies estimate that nearly 3 million people, mostly children, die each year from diseases related to unsanitary water.

The Neonatal Resuscitation program sends doctors and volunteers to areas where infant mortality rates are high. They are able to teach people in the area how to resuscitate newborns as well as provide simple medical equipment. This service is greatly needed as it is estimated that 120 million newborns each year suffer from asphyxia during birth. Nearly 90,000 of these infants die because those who care for them have not been trained on how to resuscitate them.

The Vision Treatment Training program teaches facilities and medical personal in developing countries on how to treat preventable or reversible blindness. There are 45 million people in the world who are blind, and in developing countries being blind often means poverty. Saving a person's sight may very well save them and their families.

Facts regarding the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Program

Once a month, faithful members of the Church fast, typically skipping two meals. The cost of the meals (or more if the individual can afford it) is given to caring for the poor. Because of this practice, the Utah government welfare spending is very low. Members of other faiths also benefit through Latter-day Saint charity work.

The Church maintains 15 welfare farms, five canneries/welfare storehouses, and 110 food distribution centers (bishop's storehouses) to care for the poor. Members volunteer their time to staff these facilities. The Church also has five processing plants that specialize in meat, milk, bread, grain and pasta, and soap. In 2020, the Church sent over 800 truckloads of food to 380 food banks, homeless shelters, and charitable agencies throughout the U.S. Collectively, these trucks supplied over 26 million meals to those in need.[4]

The Church also has an extensive program to help the unemployed or underemployed. Church Employment Services help members throughout the world find employment through job skills workshops, active job searching, webinars, Ask an Expert sessions, and one-on-one coaching. The Church runs self-reliance groups in 160 countries around the world. Self-Reliance Services offer courses that teach principles in areas of education, employment, small business development, emotional resilience, and personal finances that help individuals become self-reliant.

LDS Family Services, a Church organization, has offices to strengthen individuals and families. Adoption, strengthening marriages, and addiction recovery are also included. Family Services counselors also provide specialized services following critical incidents. In late 2019 and early 2020, the Family Services Emergency Response Council was established, which meant Family Services was ready to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The Council, worldwide staff, missionaries, and volunteers have responded to many critical incidents and natural disasters in 2020, including COVID-19 related distress, suicides, accidental deaths and injuries, illness, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other disasters that impact children, youth, volunteers, members, and leaders worldwide.

Forty-four Church-operated thrift store and donation centers (Deseret Industries) function in part to provide employment for the disadvantaged/disabled.[5]

Since 1985, Latter-day Saint Charities and its affiliates have provided over $2.5 billion worth of assistance in 199 countries and territories. Aid is provided regardless of any consideration, including religion, ethnicity, and nationality, and is valued in the tens of millions of dollars annually. Aid is often made to countries where Latter-day Saint missionaries are banned by law. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is able to send relief quickly because there is no need to wait for donations or purchase supplies. Church members donate regularly, and supplies are stored at Salt Lake City and elsewhere, ready for distribution. The Church also works with and donates extensively to other, non–Latter-day Saint charities.

While the Church's specific humanitarian programs are too numerous to list here, here are a few highlights:

  • In 2001 the Church established what it calls the “Perpetual Education Fund.” Low-rate college loans are made to impoverished students in the developing world, students that could not otherwise obtain a good education. The Perpetual Education Fund is a financial resource that helps individuals outside the United States enroll in local education programs to gain employable skills in 75 countries. By the end of 2020, the program had helped over 100,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ since its inception in 2001.
  • The Church helps relieve suffering following natural disasters, civil unrest, or famine around the world. Since 1985, 179 countries and territories have been assisted. During 2020, there were 1,147 projects in 158 countries and territories.
  • The Church has an extensive vision program in the developing world, where local health-care professionals are provided with the necessary training and equipment to treat vision problems. In 2020, 401,548 beneficiaries received vision care services from Latter-day Saint Charities and partners in 17 countries.
  • Worldwide only one percent of all who need wheelchairs have access to one. Since 2001, the Church has distributed chairs to the disabled in 134 countries and territories. During 2020, 17,381 individuals in 16 countries and territories received wheelchairs.
  • Since 2002, the Church has helped families in over 77 countries and territories gain access to clean water at an average cost of only $2.50 per person. This service has included digging wells, providing water storage and delivery systems, and installing water purification systems. Mostly local labor was used, and local community leaders were trained in how to maintain the new facilities. The Church helped 593,025 people in 23 countries and territories during 2020.
  • The Church has sent equipment and doctors to developing nations to train local birth attendants to help resuscitate babies at birth, support the care of newborns, and improve maternal survival. During 2020, 16,473 people were helped in 9 countries and territories. Since 2003, babies and mothers have been helped in 94 countries.
  • Working with international partners (such as UNICEF, WHO, MSF, the Red Cross, and generous donors), the Church focused on improving the ability to provide vaccinations to those who don't have easy access to them. In 2020, Latter-day Saint Charities helped 7,188,356 people in eight countries with vaccinations for diseases such as diphtheria, influenza, maternal and neonatal tetanus, polio, measles, malaria, rubella, and more.
  • The catastrophic 7.0 earthquake that leveled much of Haiti on January 12, 2010, brought help from throughout the world. Dennis Lifferth, managing director of Church Welfare Services said that Latter-day Saint help and support would be long term. “The Church will be in Haiti for a long time, providing the help that is needed to rebuild,” he pledged. In 2016, Haiti was struck by Hurricane Matthew resulting in an upsurge in the ongoing cholera epidemic. In August 2019, at the time of the dedication of the Port-au-Prince Temple, the Church News reported that the Church's response included "tens of millions of dollars" to help fund "food, clean water and other disaster aid efforts."[6]
  • JustServe was created in 2012 by Latter-day Saint Charities to connect volunteers with service opportunities. More than 570,000 volunteers have registered for more than 100,000 projects from early 11,000 organizations.

The Church has over 11,000 Welfare Services missionaries, including Humanitarian Service missionaries who work without pay to aid the poor.[7]

Aside from providing service missionaries, the Church also has 51,000 proselytizing missionaries in over 400 missions throughout the world, distinct from those mentioned above, who also work without pay. Trained in 10 missionary training centers scattered across the globe, these proselytizing missionaries—male and female—provide those who are seeking God with more information about our beliefs. Roughly 93 percent of Latter-day Saint missionaries are college age. Proselytizing missionaries are instructed to donate half a day each week doing non-proselytizing community service.

  • Some are offended by this missionary program, likely because they confuse our religion with others that proselytize more aggressively.
  • Latter-day Saint missionaries are instructed not to aggressively force their beliefs on others but instead to find and teach those interested in our message. While an occasional missionary may erroneously not follow this instruction, most follow it closely.
  • Truth be told, this missionary activity is probably the most impressive of the Church's humanitarian programs. Many individuals who were seeking God have been forever enriched because a Latter-day Saint missionary left the comfort of his home to share a message that has brought him great joy.

Latter-day Saint ecclesiastical leaders also work voluntarily and are not paid by the Church. Much of the janitorial staff is paid, as well as Church auditors and those in other non-ecclesiastical positions.

Report for 2023

The First Presidency's introductory statement read:

When Jesus Christ was on the earth, He imparted two great commandments: to love God and to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39). As we seek to show our love for God, our hearts naturally turn toward the well-being of others. Christ Himself set the example of loving our neighbor as He healed the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and cared for the vulnerable.
We are humbled to share this summary of our efforts to continue the sacred work of caring for those in need. While the summary includes resources and services provided to assist members of the Church, an even greater portion is dedicated to describing humanitarian aid rendered to all of God’s children throughout the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, we consider this to be both a duty and a joyful privilege. We gratefully acknowledge the selfless contributions of time and means from Church members, friends, and other trusted organizations that enable this work to progress and expand.
We have faith and confidence in God’s love for all of His children. There are good people everywhere who help to carry out God’s work of salvation as they care for their neighbors and comfort them in their time of need. We invite all to join us as we reach out in love and service to one another, and we pray the Lord will continue to bless this great work.

In 2023, 4,119 humanitarian projects took place in 191 countries and territories — with 6.2 million hours of volunteer work and $1.36 billion in expenditures.

These worldwide efforts could not be possible without generous donations of time and resources of faithful members and friends of the Church, said Blaine R. Maxfield, managing director of the Church’s Welfare and Self-Reliance Services Department.

Report for 2022

Charitable spending by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints surpassed $1 billion for the first time last year, according to an annual report.

The church and its charity broadened the scope of its global humanitarian aid, according to “Caring For Those in Need: 2022 Annual Report of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

The church continues to grow the number of countries where it conducts humanitarian projects. Latter-day Saint Charities provided humanitarian aid across 3,692 humanitarian projects in 190 countries (3,909 projects in 188 countries in 2021; 3,600 projects in 160 countries in 2020; 3,221 projects in 142 nations in 2019).

The church participated in 483 emergency response projects and 174 refugee response projects, including aid provided to Ukrainian refugees, the report said.

Those humanitarian aid efforts included the largest one-time humanitarian donation in church history, a $32 million commitment to the World Food Programme to provide food and other critical support to 1.6 million people in nine countries — Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

The next-largest donation in 2022 was $5 million to UNICEF’s new “No Time To Waste” global malnutrition campaign.

Read the full report here.

Report for 2021

The Church and its charity broadened the scope of its global humanitarian aid, according to “Caring For Those in Need: 2021 Annual Report of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” The total reached $906 million in the year 2021.

Latter-day Saint Charities provided humanitarian aid across 3,909 humanitarian projects in 188 countries. That’s an increase from 3,600 projects in 160 countries in 2020 and 3,221 projects in 142 nations in 2019.

Members of the Church provided 6.8 million volunteer hours in 2021. In addition to those hours, the church’s JustServe app and website facilitated over 41,000 volunteer projects. The report said JustServe registered 62,000 new local community volunteers and 2,500 new organizations registered.[8]

Increased Efforts in 2020

The humanitarian efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints increased in 2020 due in part to its global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Latter-day Saint Charities released its 2020 Annual Report, which outlines more than 3,600 projects in 160 countries during the year, including the Church’s response to the pandemic.

  • Emergency response: 1,147 projects in 158 countries and territories
  • Vision care: 401,548 people helped in 17 countries and territories
  • Maternal and newborn care: 16,473 people assisted in 9 countries and territories
  • Food security: 357,378 people helped in 18 countries and territories
  • Clean water and sanitation: 593,025 people helped in 23 countries and territories
  • Immunizations: Ten campaigns to eliminate diseases in developing countries
  • Wheelchairs: 17,381 people helped in 16 countries and territories
  • Refugee response: 294 projects in 50 countries and territories
  • International community projects: 654 projects in 99 countries and territories
  • U.S. and Canada community projects: Various projects in 53 states and provinces
  • COVID-19 Response: 1,031 projects in 151 countries and territories[9]

Latter-day Saint Charities’ Global Footprint in 2019

According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints humanitarian organization's 2019 Annual Report, Latter-day Saint Charities' global footprint expanded in 2019 to bless millions of lives in 142 countries and territories through 3,221 completed projects with 2,000 partners.

Latter-day Saint Charities carried out its vision to care for those in need, promote volunteerism and inspire self-reliance in a variety of ways:

  • Emergency response: 194 projects in 64 countries and territories
  • Vision care: 129,819 people helped in 32 countries and territories
  • Maternal and newborn care: 83,555 people assisted in 27 countries and territories
  • Food security: 181,398 people helped in 15 countries and territories
  • Clean water and sanitation: 316,790 people helped in 26 countries and territories
  • Immunizations: Six campaigns to eliminate diseases in developing countries
  • Wheelchairs: 52,381 people helped in 41 countries and territories
  • Refugee response: 387 projects in 48 countries and territories
  • International community projects: 994 projects in 107 countries and territories
  • U.S. and Canada community projects: Various projects in 42 states and provinces

In addition to being funded by Latter-day Saints who give to the Church’s Humanitarian Aid Fund, Latter-day Saint Charities is also supported by other generous donors. Since the organization’s inception in 1985, Latter-day Saint Charities has provided over $2.3 billion worth of assistance in 197 countries.

Among the major events to which Latter-day Saint Charities responded in 2019 were Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which brought flooding that destroyed crops in Mozambique, Malawi, and Zimbabwe last spring. Working alongside global and local partners, Latter-day Saint Charities provided shelter and food to those devastated by the storms’ rampage. Months after the cyclones, Latter-day Saint Charities and its partners continue to repair and refurnish schools ahead of the rainy season, to give students a dry place to study and learn.

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