What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints boasts an efficient and resourceful humanitarian aid arm that oversees the Church’s efforts to help God’s children throughout the world. Created initially as the BYU Destiny Fund at Brigham Young University in 1955, LDS Philanthropies has become a major player in world relief efforts.
The director of a recent documentary featuring the LDS Church’s humanitarian aid efforts noted the contrast between LDS Philanthropies and other organizations:
“The church is more interested for the future,” he said, while the thrust of the Red Cross, for example, is immediate aid — a vital aspect too, but different than the LDS Church’s accent.
This emphasis underscores the “teach a man to fish” principle: proper relief must have the long term wellness of the recipient in mind. Immediate needs must always be met first in order to ensure the possibility of a long term option at all, but once a person is fed, protected, and physically sound, future plans must be made. LDS Philanthropies aims at providing support all along the way, helping individuals become self-sufficient.
Additionally, LDS Philanthropies has one important feature that few other humanitarian organizations can boast: no overhead. This is made possible in part by faithful individuals who volunteer their time and resources to fulfill a divine mandate to bless others’ lives.
President Hinckley commented a few years ago on the efforts made possible by caring individuals:
Now, as a Church we have worked with others in lifting the sorrow and sufferings of those who are in distress. Our humanitarian efforts have literally blessed the lives of countless thousands not of our faith. In the terrible tsunami disaster, and in other disasters incident to conflict, disease, and hunger, we have done a great and marvelous work assisting others without worrying about who gets the credit. In February of this year the president of the American Red Cross presented to the Church the Circle of Humanitarians Award, which is the highest honor given by them. It is in recognition of the effort of the Church to extend the vaccination against measles to thousands and thousands of young people…. Countless lives have been saved, and much pain and misery have been avoided … To the extent made possible by resources which come from the generosity of our people, we are reaching down to lift those in distress. Surely the Lord is blessing us as a people, and we must reach out to bless His needy wherever they may be. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Closing Remarks,” Ensign, May 2005, 102)
There are numerous other organizations worthy of our financial support, but those who donate to LDS Philanthropies can rest assured that every penny is going to the intended recipient.