Katrina Relief

August 31, 2005 | 35 comments
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I hope that each of us is praying and perhaps fasting for those who have been affected most directly by Katrina. As I thought about doing something more — specifically, donating to the relief effort — I wondered whether we could or should funnel donations through the Church. If not, what are the best options? Red Cross?

35 Responses to Katrina Relief

  1. Nate Oman on August 31, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Gordon, for what it is worth, I favor the Red Cross. They generally have the infrastructure in place, and they have a reputation for honesty and competence.

  2. Kaimi on August 31, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Instapundit has a nice collection of links, at http://instapundit.com/archives/025235.php .

  3. cooper on August 31, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    The church has already begun shipping and organizing. I don’t think it is ever a mistake to give cash to the humanitarian arm of the church.

  4. Tony Loyal on August 31, 2005 at 4:34 pm

    Only donate to the Red Cross if you don’t mind receiving solicitation letters from them at least three days a week, every week for the rest of your life or until you demand that they stop. I’m serious, I’ll never donate to them again because of that.

  5. Wilfried on August 31, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    I trust the humanitarian arm of the Church most. If necessary, they will then cooperate with or give to Red Cross or Caritas Catholica.

  6. Gordon Smith on August 31, 2005 at 4:57 pm

    I was wondering whether the Church would have a special fund for Katrina, but donating to the humanitarian fund works.

  7. Sarah on August 31, 2005 at 6:52 pm

    The Church often works in conjunction with local agencies (Catholic Relief, for instance) when the local infrastructure isn’t large or organized enough for the particular project. And they don’t send letters all the time.

  8. Adam Greenwood on August 31, 2005 at 8:16 pm

    Oh. I didn’t realize we had a thread for this. Here’s the link:

    http://www.providentliving.org/content/display/0,11666,6147-1-3186-1,00.html

  9. Ronan on August 31, 2005 at 8:35 pm

    From Provident Living: members who wish to help are encouraged to donate to fast offerings

    I wish the Church would clarify this. If I make a donation to fast offering, how do I know it will go to Katrina relief? Some people like to know that their donation at times like this is going to a specific place. (The same issue came up after the tsunami.)

  10. Kaimi on August 31, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    See also the FEMA list of organizations: http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/08/30/help.agencies/index.html/ .

    I think that the church needs to do better at making its efforts known. That would go a long way towards establishing goodwill.

  11. Wilfried on August 31, 2005 at 8:42 pm

    Kaimi: “I think that the church needs to do better at making its efforts known. That would go a long way towards establishing goodwill.”

    So true. But even if they do, as long as the efforts abroad are called coming from “LDS Humanitarian Services” or something similar LDS-ish, nobody knows there is any relation to the Church and the Mormons.

  12. Gordon Smith on August 31, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    The entire sentence quoted by Ronan reads, “Church members who wish to help are encouraged to donate to fast offerings or to the humanitarian fund of the Church through their local wards.”

    After reading comments here and speaking to the clerks in my ward, I think your best option if you want to donate to the church is the humanitarian fund.

  13. Ronan on August 31, 2005 at 9:01 pm

    Wilfried,
    Amen!

    Ronan
    (Your friend in the pro-“Mormon” club)

  14. Jed on August 31, 2005 at 10:17 pm

    Why do we send good will through the “LDS” Humanitarian Services but send cheer through the “Mormon” Tabernacle Choir? Where is Correlation when you need them?

  15. annegb on August 31, 2005 at 11:04 pm

    Yeah, I do all my charitable giving through the church, although I will stuff those cans in the grocery store for Relay for Life, or a specific family/person in our community. I trust the church.

  16. Tatiana on September 1, 2005 at 12:57 am

    You can also give to the LDS Humanitarian Services Giving Site and specify it is for emergency response. I did this so it could be available to be used sooner than if I paid by check on Sunday, just in case they might need it right now.

    I trust the church, too. I just think they’re going to get the most out of every dollar they spend. The Red Cross is also really good, I think, though the spam would definitely get annoying.

    I have room to take in a member family into my home, too, which would be much more comfortable than a shelter for an extended stay. I told my Bishop but should I contact someone in the local ward there in New Orleans as well with that offer? I live in Birmingham, AL and could take a family of five or six, I think, if that would be a help.

  17. Cherish on September 1, 2005 at 1:19 am

    Okay I am not sure if anyone wrote this but on your tithing slip just put “Katrina” under “other”…. You can donate to whatever you want under the “other”

  18. XiGauss on September 1, 2005 at 9:43 am

    Unfortunately, writing something under the “other” line that the financial clerk has not dealt with before (or received instructions on how to deal with) is a most inefficient way to get money where you’d like it to go. If it doesn’t fit into one of the already existing subcategories of “other” in the financial database for which there is already a clear policy of what to do, it will just cause confusion for the clerk.

  19. lyle on September 1, 2005 at 10:48 am

    Which will give said financial clerk a good opportunity to magnify his calling rather than being just a bureacrate in religious clothing.

    re: Giving. Why send capital outside of the Kingdom of God? While there may be name confusion issues for a decade or two; building up good will for the Church would seem to flow from our covenants.

  20. lyle on September 1, 2005 at 11:05 am

    This story might also convince you:

    http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_2991271

    Basically, Utah is taking in Refugees from La.; Currently about 1k, possibly more. Local LDS Wards are being asked to provide 3 meals a day to these folks; who will be living in shelters and at Camp Williams (UT National Guard base at S. End of SLC county).

    Not to mention the 12 trucks of supplies the Church pretty much had on the road before the storm even hit.

  21. jimbob on September 1, 2005 at 11:13 am

    Have you been a clerk, Lyle? What I don’t think any clerk needs is more opportunity to magnify his calling. It’s usually a difficult and thankless calling, and an odd donation in the “Other” category is a great and easy way to screw up and get bad marks on the audits.

  22. lyle on September 1, 2005 at 12:06 pm

    Obv. where the church has already stated how/where to donate, then someone not knowing this won’t confuse a clerk, since it won’t be ‘odd’…right? also, natural disaster relief is hardly ‘odd’.

  23. jimbob on September 1, 2005 at 12:36 pm

    It’s been a few years since I worked with the clerks, and the system has changed since then, so it may be easier now, but my experience is that all donations that aren’t tithing or fast offering often are far more complicated than they ought to be. But again, that was on old FIS; I know one of the purposes of the new system was to make it so that you didn’t have to be a CPA so as to be an effective financial clerk.

  24. XiGauss on September 1, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    When the Church has already stated how/where to donate, and someone does something else instead, it usually takes at least a phone call to that person (to confirm that the clerk’s guess as to what they meant is actually what they meant) before things can be settled.

    Part of the problem is that donations processed as “other” do not get automatically transferred to Salt Lake with the tithing, fast offerings, PEF, etc. They stay in the ward’s account, even if they’re not supposed to, until the clerk figures out what to do with them–and “figure out what to do with these anomalies” usually comes well behind “get the tithing recorded and deposited” and “get the checks written that the bishop asked for” on the priority list. Obviously a donation entered wrongly should be dealt with the day it happens–but if it isn’t, there may be quite a delay.

  25. ed on September 1, 2005 at 3:24 pm

    Is there an easy way to give to the Red Cross without getting on their mailing lists? There should be. Maybe somebody needs to start a charitable organization that has as it’s only role as funnelling money to other organizations anonymously, while still preserving record keeping and tax deductibility.

  26. Cherish on September 1, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    Okay well I was told donate to whatever I wanted in the “other” Category. Obviously there are not set donations for the “others” category or it would be specified. So excuse me for my Irrelevant comment.. I must not pay tithing or have ever donated under the “other” catergory.

    People, people… Can we lighten up in here? So much tension is unbearable…anyways can’t we all just get along?

  27. lyle on September 1, 2005 at 4:04 pm

    Ed: Such a group already exists: It’s called the LDS Church, which donates goods/$ to other groups where it can’t help directly or where it would be redundant to do so.

  28. WillF on September 1, 2005 at 4:10 pm

    If you want to donate to the Red Cross without being put on a mailing list, you could use amazon.com’s service:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/philanthropy/red-cross.html/103-9784194-5770251

    Or Yahoo (which the Red Cross was directing to a while ago anyway):

    http://store.yahoo.com/redcross-donate/
    http://store.yahoo.com/redcross-donate2/

    You have to donate > $250 for them to send your personal info to the Red Cross.

    I would give through the Church, but my employer is matching donations made to the Red Cross, but won’t match donations given via the Church because it is a religious organization.

  29. JB on September 1, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    I am a current ward financial clerk. Unless there is a specific instruction, usually as a letter read from the pulpit, do not donate to “other”. If you want to donate to hurricane relief through the church, put it as “Humanitarian Aid”. The “other” accounts are mostly used for scouting/youth accounts that are allowed to roll-over from year to year, unlike budget accounts. Here is how donated money gets distributed in the USA: Tithing goes to church HQ immediately. F.O. technically goes to church HQ, but the totals are kept track of, and each ward is strongly encouraged to not spend more than it takes in. F.O. expenses are covered by church HQ, but local totals are kept track of. Ward Missionary is kept locally, and each month an amount equal to the number of missionaries serving from the ward multiplied by $400 is taken out. The “Other” accounts don’t get any money put into them or taken out unless specifically donated to, or expenses are drawn from them. They are typically for scout camps, youth conferences, etc. All other donations are sent immediately to church HQ, into their seperate funds, eg., Book of Mormon, General Missionary, Humanitarian Aid, PEF, etc. Ward expenses are taken from a Budget account that is funded at the begining of the year, and closed out at the end of the year. The amount in the Budget each year is a function of attendance numbers. The Bishop decides how much each ward org gets, with some strong guidelines to spend at least a certain amount for each for primary, YM and YW child on the books.

    So, in summary, if you live on the Gulf Coast, F.O. may help. Otherwise, donate to Humanitarian Aid.

  30. JB on September 1, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    The above advice is, of course, if you want to donate through the church.

  31. Greg Fox on September 2, 2005 at 12:21 am

    Thanks for the links and advice. Every time I saw the paper or listened to the radio today, I wanted to help. Thanks, this is helpful. Peace.

  32. Stephen Hardy on September 2, 2005 at 7:46 am

    The church’s website: http://www.lds.org has instructions on how to donate to their efforts related to the hurricaine.

  33. anon on September 3, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    President Bush pledged $200 from every income tax paying family in America. ($10B divided by about 50M families)

  34. MTJ on September 6, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    I believe that donations to the Other category are not included as charitable donations in the end of year report. So, if you donate to the Other category, it is not included in the total for tax deduction purposes. Donations for specific activities such as Scout or Girls Camp, etc. benefits or returns value directly to the donating family or child attending the event. This type of donation does not qualify as a charitiable donation. Some call the Other category simply a pass-through account that will eventually have a zero balance.

    Named accounts such as Humanitarium Aid, PEF, Book of Mormon, etc. do not have direct benefit to those donating and qualifies as Charitable Donations.

  35. Mike on September 14, 2005 at 11:02 am

    Something else to donate besides money if anyone is still reading this.

    Donate blood, if you are able.

    Mormons usually make great donors, except certain return missionaries from exotic places on their list, like England. Your unit probably won’t make it to the Gulf Coast but it is one less headache for the Red Cross if they have more than enough blood and can focus their energy in other areas.