10 things you might not know about the Church’s humanitarian efforts

Despite the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated more in 2020 to humanitarian relief than ever before, noted Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.

In the most recent general conference, Bishop Budge highlighted the generosity of Latter-day Saints, which has allowed the Church to organize over 1,500 COVID-19 relief projects in more than 150 countries.

In addition to COVID-19-related projects, the Church has also responded to 933 natural disasters and refugee crises in 108 countries, Sister Sharon Eubank, a member of the Relief Society general presidency and president of Latter-day Saint Charities services, reported during her October general conference address.

As the Church and its members continue to seek to care for the needy, here are 10 things you might not know about Latter-day Saint Charities, the Church’s humanitarian arm, taken from its blog (“10 Facts about Latter-day Saint Charities,” Aug. 20, 2020):

1. Origins

Latter-day Saint Charities was originally formed in 1985 to respond to the devastating famine in Ethiopia that year. Two worldwide fasts were held, raising over $11 million for the relief effort. 

2. Mission

Latter-day Saint Charities helps others feel the love of Jesus Christ by relieving suffering, instilling hope and building stability to strengthen families and promote individual dignity. 

3. Name

Humanitarian Services was the original name of Latter-day Saint Charities. Any relief efforts the Church provides can be considered the work of Latter-day Saint Charities. 

4. Funding

Funding for Latter-day Saint Charities comes primarily from the Humanitarian Aid Fund of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as philanthropic donors to the organization. Latter-day Saints typically donate through their local congregations. The funds are used to support domestic and global relief efforts that align with Latter-day Saint Charities’ major initiatives. 

5. Worldwide fasts

In addition to donations through the Humanitarian Aid Fund, to date there have been five worldwide fasts. The offerings received in conjunction with these fasts have significantly contributed to Latter-day Saint Charities’ efforts. Two of the fasts were for relief for the Ethiopian famine in 1985, and another fast was held for the Southeast Asia tsunami in 2005.

6. Major initiatives

Latter-day Saint Charities currently consists of nine initiatives: food security, clean water, community projects, emergency response, immunizations, maternal and newborn care, refugee and immigrant services, vision care, and wheelchairs. Each initiative is led by project managers with experience specific to their field. 

Cataract surgery provided by Latter-day Saint Charities and its partners helped improve the sight of an 8-year-old boy in Malawi name Taonga.
Cataract surgery provided by Latter-day Saint Charities and its partners helped improve the sight of an 8-year-old boy in Malawi name Taonga. Credit: Latter-day Saint Charities

7. Partners

Latter-day Saint Charities works in partnership, domestically and globally, with over 40 experienced nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In addition, Latter-day Saint Charities works with thousands of other community organizations and governments to expand its reach and amplify its impact throughout the world. Trusted partners help provide the infrastructure and hands-on support in the community or country of need to align with Latter-day Saint Charities’ core values. 

8. Volunteers

In addition to these trusted partners, welfare and self-reliance missionaries also act as hands-on support for Latter-day Saint Charities projects. They live in countries around the world and help create and supervise local projects. Currently, Latter-day Saint Charities has ongoing projects in 197 countries.

Latter-day Saint Charities missionary Sister Anita Canfield, right, hugs Latter-day Saint volunteer Cecilia Panecianco at the Latter-day Saint Charities Friendship Center in Rome, Italy.
Latter-day Saint Charities missionary Sister Anita Canfield, right, hugs Latter-day Saint volunteer Cecilia Panecianco at the Latter-day Saint Charities Friendship Center in Rome, Italy. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

9. Community service

JustServe.org is the volunteerism arm of Latter-day Saint Charities. On the JustServe.org website, you can sign up for service opportunities in your community. You can also create your own service project and enlist the help of others on this new platform.

10. A welfare heart

Latter-day Saint Charities is a part of the Church’s welfare and self-reliance efforts, which also include Church farms and production facilities as well as bishops’ storehouses. Through the Humanitarian Aid Fund, Latter-day Saint Charities provides help to individuals in need regardless of race, beliefs or nationality. And through the fast offerings that Church members give each month, local Church members in need can receive assistance from their congregations or from bishops’ storehouses. Both programs are based on the principles of self-reliance.