Thursday, March 12, 2009

Should I Increase my Fast Offering Contribution or Should I Give Well?

My wife and I are LDS and we were contemplating during these tough financial times on increasing our fast offering contributions. So far, we've been really blessed. I am lucky enough to have a good job that pays well, and at least right now, I'm secure in it. I know that there are people around me not doing as well and can use a little help and have used help from our church. We were set on doing just that, until I heard this podcast featuring the author of this book, Peter Singer who suggested that although many Americans donate a lot of money, their donations are misplaced.

The highest beneficiaries of our donations in America are churches, then schools, then places like museums, etc. Church donations are good, especially if they use that money to help those in the most need, but many churches don't do that. A large percentage of that money goes toward paid staff, maintenance and upkeep of their buildings, etc. Rich universities need the money still less. And museums? Maybe we should wait until we can solve severe poverty before we splurge on those... His words, not mine.

The fact is that 2 million children under five years old die of diarrhea every year, a disease that is completely treatable and requires a very small amount of money. I could donate $50 in a targeted way and save a life through a vaccine, for example.

I feel that some of my fast offering contributions does go to desperate cases like this, but I also know that some of it goes to less deserving causes (though probably still deserving). Maybe I'll keep my fast offering contributions where they're at, and look to funding some organizations who are helping the most desperate poor among us.

What do you think?


H said...

I think that no matter where you give there are going to be some recipients that abuse the system. Yes, this happens to your fast offering money, but you can rest easy knowing that there is no corporate president somewhere pocketing that money and that the money is going directly to what it is supposed to go to: food and the low-cost maintenance of the building it is housed in. Before I give someplace else (and I certainly don't discourage that!), I would just make sure it is a well-established and legit organization. Scott, I know you'll research at length before you send your hard earned money to someone that will handle it poorly. Right now, I'm content with knowing that I might be putting a jar of peanut butter in someone's cupboard.

Crystal said...

The Lord wants us to help the poor and the needy. The fast offering may not be used the way we see fit but his Leaders know what they are doing. I have faith that when I increase my fast offering the Lord will bless me and I don't have like where the money goes or who it goes to. He sees my heart and knows that I want to help. Bishop Wright said a few years ago that if we wanted to improve our financial situation to triple our fast offering. I was skeptical but I tried it and it worked for us amazingly well. The blessings are real and the Lord will make sure that his money that you give to him will not be wasted in vain. I hope this isn't too preachy but I have a real testimony of it. I see more than most people do about how this money is used since Jared is in the bishopric and he has to sign a lot of these checks to help people out. I haven't become synical because of it. If anything, my testimony has increased that the Lord just wants to bless all of his children. Pray about it and maybe you'll gain a stronger testimony about it. If you really want to see what happens, then double or triple your fast offering for one month and see what happens. I have recently increased mine and I have seen my tub rental business (which has been dead for almost the whole last year) suddenly pick up like crazy. I know it's because I'm paying more on my fast offerings. I feel great peace knowing that my money is going to help people and not being pocketed by our Leaders. Just my 2 cents.

tempe turley said...


I'm not questioning the absolute value of fast offerings and I'm not proposing we stop paying it at all. But I'm wondering if I had a choice to pay X amount of extra dollars to increase my fast offering which may help let's 5 people get a little extra food or to pay that same extra amount to save 5 children's lives who might otherwise die from diarrhea, it seems like maybe increasing fast offerings is not quite the right choice.

I can still donate the extra cash to the church. It would just be routed directly to worldwide humanitarian funds and not directly through fast offerings which tends to be used locally.

Its just a fact that there are billions of people worldwide whose day to day survival is in doubt, and for many of those people all it would take is for the wealthy world to take a little more notice, that's all.

proud parents said...

If it comes to your mind whether you should increase your offerings, take that as a prompting to try a bit of your faith. Not only will you receive a multitude of blessings, but one of those blessings will be an enriched testimony that you are doing as the Lord would have you do. You will have a deeper understanding of fast offerings. You will be enlightened as to the workings of Lord within and without the Church. This is my testimony. This is true. And this is yours if you do these things.

We have always been givers in my family. We've had this "dilemma" before in our home as well. The simple solution: increase the fast offerings as we have felt prompted AND give well! The Lord has blessed us with the ability to do both as we exercised our faith, even if giving well came through a donation of our time or other means of support.

Davey said...

salt in Africa is so easy and effective but no one pays for it because it isn't glamorous enough. The World Bank says, “Probably no other technology, offers as large an opportunity to improve lives ... at such low cost and in such a short time.”

Give a dollar there and you can raise someone's IQ by 10-15 points. That's the difference between mentally retarded and the peak of the bell curve.

I know the church does good stuff to though, but one of their big news stories last year was the distribution of thousands of wheelchairs in Latin America. Needed? Yes. Important? Yes. Glamorous? Yes.

I guess charity's not supposed to be cost-effective though. My sister is a social worker too but she's not clinically trained like I am. She thinks it's somewhat silly to give psychotherapy to individuals at 100 an hour as she spends most of her time advocating for disadvantaged groups struggling for equality. All I can say is that it’s what strikes my fancy, it appeals to me even though it's an inefficient way to change the world. We each have our place and our calling in the world I guess so do whatever you want, if you like what the church does give more to them, if you want to be more efficient there are better options I'm sure. One thing I'm certain of, God doesn't care where you give your additional donations to. He set aside some of the blessings he gives you for his church but after that it's up to you to further his Kingdom where ever you decide to. What I mean is that the blessings are the same for extra fast offerings and for iodizing salt.

Davey said...

First Sentance of previous post:

I think about this quite a bit actually, I read a great op-ed in the NY Times about how iodizing

Rachel said...

I agree that how the church uses fast offerings is not with the focus of ending starvation or extreme poverty, and I'm sure there is good reason in that even though I don't completely understand it. But what I do know is that if there are people in the world who are dying from the lack of vaccines that cost .07 and when there are mothers who watch their children starve to death, we as members of a prosperous society are doing something wrong. If the church isn't addressing these tragedies with a majority of the money we give for fast offerings, then I believe they are inviting us to do it personally. President Kimball said,

“The Lord answers our prayers, but it is usually through another person that he meets our needs.”

If there are people in the world who aren't getting their even basic needs met, then it's up to us to step in and do as the Savior would do. Honestly, I think he would respond a little more strongly than I have to causes that work toward stopping genocide, putting food in the belly's of emaciated children and giving vaccines that prevent terrible disease.

Of course, this is where the key is to be prayerful and well researched in our decision about how much to give to Fast Offerings and how much/where to give to those in desperate situations, but I agree wholeheartedly with Davey that the the blessings come from helping any people, not just helping through the church. Any worthy cause is God's cause, right?