The Perpetual Education Fund

February 4, 2008 | 25 comments
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Several of the saints at church Sunday said they’d donated to the Perpetual Education Fund in memory of President Hinckley. It put us in mind to do the same.

We were talking about it and I realized with a start that the Perpetual Education Fund is one of the things I have a testimony of.

25 Responses to The Perpetual Education Fund

  1. Kevinf on February 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Adam, I also donated to the PEF Sunday. Pres. Hinckley’s announcement of the Perpetual Education Fund was one of those confirming moments for me of his prophetic calling, feeling the spiritual witness of his calling and of the revelation at the same time. Truly a treasured memory for me.

  2. Ray on February 4, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    People often ask when the last time was that our Prophet had a “major” revelation. When you read what Pres.Hinckley said about the way various things came to him (including the plans for the new small temples), it is clear that revelation flowed regularly for him. The PEF, in my mind, is one of the clearest examples of “major revelation” received in my lifetime. It might not rival the lifting of the Priesthood ban in earth-shaking or eternal import, but it does much the same thing in a very practical way – freeing potentially millions of people eventually to enjoy the full blessings of life and the Gospel.

    It simply is a brilliant, inspired program.

  3. JennyW on February 4, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    That’s what we did on Sunday—I cannot forget the immediacy of the Spirit when Pres. Hinckley made the PEF announcement. Recently returned from a South American mission where I spent over a year with amazing latina women as companions, the inherent rightness, and righteousness, of the PEF program was something I knew as it was spoken to be inspired.

  4. Bookslinger on February 4, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Why not put $.50 or $1.00 on the PEF line of every donation slip? If every active money-donating LDS adult did that, the fund would grow very fast. Come to think of it, you don’t have to be active to make a donation. The Bishopric will deposit your check/money regardless of your activity level.

    The reason that the Bishop’s address is on every donation envelope, I think, is so that home teachers can take envelopes and donation slips to the less-active, and encourage them to tithe and make other donations, and just mail in their donations. I think a non-attending person who pays tithing would still reap the blessings of tithing, fast-offerings, etc.

    I would also encourage you to donate to the Book of Mormon fund on the donations slip. It’s got to be costing more than the $3.00/each that I pay at http://www.ldscatalog.com for all those copies of the hard-back Book of Mormon that I order, especially when they throw free-shipping into the deal. Many of the languages are printed in Europe or Asia, shipped to SLC, then reshipped free when ordered. Yeah, I think they cost more than the $3.00, or $2.50 up until recently when you figure the shipping/handling/labor costs of the Distribution Center.

  5. Adam on February 4, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    I was at BYU a year or so after the PEF was announced and implemented. Along with several idealistic cohorts, we contacted the PEF administrators and through a family friend even made a presentation at the Church Office Building “about how this group of students could help the PEF”. Needless to say, the PEF was so thoughtfully developed and inspired that there was little we could do without getting in its way.

    (post script – through that meeting we found out about a small program they were running in the translation booths of the conference center. Volunteers would call PEF recipients to talk about the PEF program, remind them of the obligation, inspire them to do great things, and lend an ear to their experiences. One call to Chile put me on the phone with an RM that had been in my deacons quorum years before when my family lived in Santiago. Wonderfully small world.)

  6. Nick Literski on February 5, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Notice that Monson mentioned in today’s press conference his approval of obituaries directing that donations be made to the PEF in lieu of flowers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become a very common custom, as a result.

  7. anon on February 5, 2008 at 11:39 am

    I’ve heard that $75 a month to the PEF supports one student–so little, really, when you think of what it does. We have committed to supporting two students a month to repay the blessings my husband and I have had (benefitting from BYU educations, scholarships, etc) and feel a great testimony of the PEF.

  8. gej on February 5, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    The PEF is a great program. It is my understanding it is only available to persons who have served full-time missions. Am I mistaken? Seems like there should be some leeway to include other deserving Saints who haven\’t been able to serve as a FTM.

  9. t-bone on February 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    Like other microloan programs, the PEF really makes a difference in the lives of those who participate in it–both the donors and the loan recipients. If you are concerned about the specific church-related qualifications for the PEF, you could also donate through http://www.kiva.org.

  10. anon on February 5, 2008 at 3:41 pm

    i believe it is open to all LDS students–through institute, etc, not necessarily just RMs

  11. Adam Greenwood on February 5, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    If you are concerned about the specific church-related qualifications for the PEF, you could also donate through http://www.kiva.org.

    Thanks. But we have covenantal obligations to our fellow Saints that we need to meet, though I admire people who donate to and work for other microloan projects. I’ve donated a little here and there myself.

  12. greenfrog on February 5, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    But we have covenantal obligations to our fellow Saints that we need to meet…

    Can you be more specific? I’m not recalling any covenant that obliges me to prefer members of the LDS Church over others in equal or greater need.

  13. gej on February 5, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    #8 & #10 I already do micro loans through kiva.org as well as PEF.

  14. JWL on February 5, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    If you want to contribute to microcredit for both LDS and non-LDS beneficiaries, check out http://www.enterprise-mentors.org/ which serves both clienteles in the communities where they operate.

  15. JimD on February 5, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I’m not recalling any covenant that obliges me to prefer members of the LDS Church over others in equal or greater need

    I think you could make a good case that the law of consecration–even in the imperfect form lived by church members today–encompasses such a covenant.

  16. ed johnson on February 6, 2008 at 4:07 am

    I would like to have a testimony of the PEF. But I have very little real information about it. I’ve heard some vague rather statements about its goals and methods, and an anecdote or two. I find it hard to have a testimony of something based on so little knowledge.

    Does anyone know about any sources of solid information about how the PEF is running? What is its size and scope? What are its limitations? Anybody know?

  17. Adam Greenwood on February 6, 2008 at 10:58 am

    I find it hard to have a testimony of something based on so little knowledge.

    More power to you in your quest for info. I’ll note that I knew almost nothing about Book of Mormon scholarship or about the disputes about the translation process when I got my testimony of the Book of Mormon, and I had read the book itself pretty superficially. Ditto with the Bible.

  18. David Douglas Brown on February 6, 2008 at 11:56 am

    For starters on more info, you should take a look http://www.lds.org/pef. It has basic info on the program, who qualifies, and various success stories.

  19. JWL on February 6, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Re: #16

    Obviously the PEF website linked in comment #18 is the good place to start. Although it harks back to the 19C Perpetual Emigration Fund, the modern Perpetual Education Fund is really a variation on the worldwide anti-poverty strategy of microcredit. The microcredit movement received considerable publicity last year when Muhammed Yunus, one of its founders, received the Nobel Peace Prize. A quick summary can be found at:

    http://www.enterprise-mentors.org/Resources/Onpovertymicroenterprise/tabid/643/Default.aspx

    The wikipedia article isn’t bad:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcredit

    The Church has a long history with the modern microcredit movement. The Journal of Microfinance (recently renamed the ESR Review), the leading academic journal in the field is published at BYU, (http://marriottschool.byu.edu/esrreview/), the Insitutute for Self-Reliance at the Marriott School of Management is a major center for microcredit studies and many BYU graduates have pursued careers in microcredit.

    For many years the Church has partnered with a number of well-established microcredit organizations to provide traditional microloans to Church members in LDCs. President Hinckley referenced these prior efforts in describing the PEF in this speech: http://www.ldskc.org/NPC.html President Hinckley and the First Presidency have met personally with Muhammed Yunus and other microcredit leaders over the years.

    Microcredit is a great fit with LDS teachings. It is helping the poor by enabling them to become self-reliant and self-supporting through work. The Church struggled for a long time to figure out how to offer this kind of support more directly to members in LDCs. The problem with implementing it directly through regular priesthood channels is that that would turn bishops into loan collectors, which would be highly problematic. The PEF is what they finally came up with. It uses well-developed microcredit principles but with the interesting variation of using them for eduction loans rather than microenterpise loans. This makes them useful for a wider range of people (those seeking salaried employment as well as the self-employed or small businesspeople) and offloads the administration to the Institute program, which is at least a little bit removed from the pastoral priesthood line of authority.

    The PEF meets a huge need in the Church. It is very difficult to be an active Church member when you have to work 7 days a week just to barely feed your family, or have to decide which family members will attend Church because you can’t afford public transportation for the whole family on Sunday. And it starts us toward fulfilling our sacred Gospel obligations. Jospeh F. Smith famously once wrote that “a religion which can not save its people temporally can not be expected to save them spiritually.”

    The PEF is still relatively new, and I am not aware of any comprehensive long-term studies. However, the Church launched the PEF with a lot of know-how and experience in microcredit behind it. Just as donating money to supply missionaries with Book of Mormons doesn’t guarantee that those particular BoMs will lead someone into the Church, so there is no guarantee that donating to the PEF will supply a Church member in an LDC with a successful education. However, it does give them at least something of an equal chance, which is a part of establishing Zion. See D&C 78:6 — “For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things.”

  20. Adam Greenwood on February 6, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    That was great, JWL.

  21. Mark IV on February 6, 2008 at 6:02 pm

    A couple in my ward just returned from serving a senior mission in South America. He told me that his official title was CES representative, but he only taught one class per week. Most of their time was spent interviewing prospective PEF borrowers, helping them find educational programs that were a fit for their abilities, goals, etc., following up with them as students to make sure they were doing their homework and keeping up with their studies, helping them find jobs after graduation, then following up to make sure the loans were repaid. They both have a strong testimony that they were doing God’s work.

  22. Frank McIntyre on February 6, 2008 at 6:10 pm

    Ed/JWL,

    Unfortunately, there is often very little incentive for microfinance groups to do well-designed tests of their own quality, as most of the biases are in their favor in the badly done studies. Murdoch or Khandker and Pitt are guys who have done some microcredit evaluations in a more or less rigorous fashion and found reasonably good outcomes, not nearly as good as the propaganda, but still probably better than a lot of other third world poverty alleviation programs.

    To my knowledge the Church has not done anything comparable to that kind of research for the PEF, although it would be really interesting to see the results if someone did.

  23. Ryan on February 6, 2008 at 10:45 pm

    You can actually donate to the PEF by searching using goodsearch.com and designating LDS philanthropies. Imagine what would happen if a thousand Mormons did ten searches each daily. It could really add up!

  24. ed johnson on February 8, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks everyone, that is some useful information. It sounds like Mark IV is the one who really has the most access to information, via his contact with someone who has worked in the program.

    The website has a lot of good info. I still wish there were some actual numbers somewhere. Without any numbers at all, how can I evaluate whether the PEF is a good place for my marginal charitable dollar to go?

    Frank, if you wanted to study the PEF, do you think you could get some data?

  25. Cameron on February 17, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I suggest emailing or calling the PEF itself. There is a comment form on the website. I used it and about two days later I got an email back with contact information. I had additional questions, so I called and was able to speak with recently returned PEF administrator. He answered every question I had.

    The PEF works. I wrote about it on my blog. Click my name for the link. It is one of the most fundamentally awesome programs the Church has going today. In fact, it’s one of the most awesome programs in the world, and in my opinion doesn’t get as much pub as it deserves.

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