Money for Humanitarian Work

Mormon Money

The Church Office Building (background) and the Church Administration Building (foreground), part of the LDS temple complex in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A Time Magazine report suggested that in 1996 the Mormon Church collected $5.2 billion in tithing money. Church membership has increased 20% since then. At that time, Time Magazine estimated Church assets, which include real estate and some for-profit businesses, to be worth about $30 billion. This money is meticulously managed in order to maximize its benefits, benefits which include an extensive humanitarian program. According to Time, if the Mormon Church were a corporation, it would be listed on the Fortune 500 above Nike and the Gap. How does the Church have so much money?

  • Faithful members of the Church pay 10% of their income, called tithing money, in addition to “fast offerings,” which are used to support the poor. This tithing money accounts for about 90% of the Church’s “income,” at least in 1996.
  • Most of the LDS clergy (including its missionaries) receive no money for their dedicated service, eliminating many personnel costs. (The General Authorities, who work for the Church full-time, receive a modest amount of money because their duties prevent them from taking on secular employment.)
  • Because the Church emphasizes industry, many Mormons are well-off. According to Time, “There is no major Church in the U.S. as active as the Latter-day Saints in economic life, nor, per capita, as successful at it…” Of course, there are many, many Mormons with no money, myself included!
  • About 10% of the Church’s “income money” comes from its financial holdings. Some of the Church’s known financial holding include:
AgReserves Inc, Salt Lake City, Utah The largest producer of nuts in America, part of the Mormon welfare system.
Beneficial Life Insurance Co. Assets exceeding $1.6 billion.
Bonneville International Corporation The 14th largest radio chain in the U.S., used to broadcast the LDS biannual general conference.
Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch in Orlando, Florida The world’s largest beef ranch (312,000 acres). The land alone is worth $858 million. The ranch is part of the LDS welfare system.
Farmland Reserve, Inc Owns 228,000 acres in Nebraska, second only to Ted Turner’s 290,000. Also owns land east of Orlando, appraised at $10 million. The reserve is part of the LDS welfare system.
Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii The leading for-profit visitor attraction in Hawaii.

Reading this list, the tendency is to imagine the Church as a massive, faceless, money-making organization, but this is far from the case. Despite these financial assets, the Church is a non-profit organization. Imagine the influence for good this much money has…imagine the children in Africa getting their immunizations, the impoverished in Brazil getting student loans, the poor and the rich worshiping together. The power for good is unimaginable.
(Accurate as of 1996.)

The Church has no debt. All buildings are paid for in cash (about two new congregations per day).
(Accurate as of 2006.)

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