Did you know that Latter-day Saint Charities does work at the United Nations? It is considered a non-governmental organization with consultative status in the Economic and Social Council. Each of these annual commissions provide the opportunity for NGO’s like LDS Charities to submit statements and recommend solutions to very real world-wide problems. This statement is for the upcoming Commission on the Status of Women and includes some powerful comments about the family and quotes directly from The Family: A Proclamation to the World. We are grateful for these remarkable opportunities to testify of the timeless truths found in the proclamation.
Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights maintains that “[e]veryone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” This simple idea is at the heart of the priority theme of the 65th Commission on the Status of Women, which calls for “the full and effective participation and decision-making of women in public life.” Sadly, there are many barriers to full participation in public life by women throughout the world, and the subsequent loss of public contributions by women is incalculable.
Many barriers to such participation stem from inadequate access to health care, clean water, and proper nutrition. Access to such basic, life-sustaining needs empowers women and girls (and all people) to move beyond an existence of mere subsistence and survival to one of full and robust participation in public life. Providing for these basic needs is therefore a critical part of enhancing the participation of women in public life everywhere.
As the humanitarian organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Latter-day Saint Charities provides outreach and aid programs that reflect a Christian understanding that all people are children of God, regardless of the belief system or tradition they follow. A 1995 proclamation issued by the Church’s First presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles underscores this view: “All human beings – male and female – are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”
In harmony with this worldview, Latter-day Saint Charities sponsors impartial, independent, and neutral humanitarian relief and development projects for women and their families without regard to race, religious affiliation, or nationality. Initiatives address health care for women and newborn infants, clean water and sanitation, refugee assistance, food and nutrition, disaster relief, and more. Since 1985, these initiatives have spanned 197 countries and totaled more than $2.3 billion in aid. In 2019 alone, 3,221 projects were undertaken in 142 countries.
At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has deepened existent crises and created new ones, our best, most collaborative efforts are needed now more than ever before. In the midst of these challenging times, Latter-day Saint Charities affirms its
commitment to providing relief that enables women and girls to thrive, which will in turn provide immeasurable strength to their families, communities, and nations. In connection with that commitment, we call on governments, communities, nongovernmental organizations, and faith-based organizations to link arms in a united effort to protect and empower women and girls. Our united efforts in this critical issue will create a future of unparalleled peace, opportunity, and prosperity.
1. Our 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. (You can read more about the origin of Latter-day Saint Charities here or watch it here.)
2. The Mission
Latter-day Saint Charities was created as an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit and became the humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Its mission is to offer relief, foster self-reliance, and provide opportunities for service.
3. Our 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.
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. Within these initiatives, most Latter-day Saint Charities projects are carried out by trusted partners as well as welfare and self-reliance missionaries.
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.
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.
9. Community Service
JustServe is the volunteerism arm of Latter-day Saint Charities. On JustServe.org, 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.