A study done through the University of Pennsylvania demonstrated that Mormons are the most charitable people in America, donating both money and time at a higher rate than other Americans. Even when religious donations and service are subtracted, they give about as much as other Americans, but, of course, this is in addition to the religious donations.
The average American spends about 48 hours a year volunteering for charity. That’s a lot, but Mormons volunteer for 427.9 hours per year. Much of that is spent teaching or leading or working in church positions that largely benefit other church members, but 151.9 hours are spent volunteering in church programs that are not religious in nature. They volunteer in the Boy Scouts of America or participate in non-sectarian humanitarian work or welfare programs.
Programs carried out within the Church are often open to people who are not Mormon and benefit the community as a whole. For instance, the literacy program, run by the Mormon women, certainly benefits the entire community, as does the employment program. When anyone in a community gets a better job, learns to read or to speak the native language, or improves his parenting skills, everyone in the entire community benefits and future generations are blessed. Mormon welfare programs, carried out largely for Latter-day Saints (Mormons), mean that Mormons are not taking money from the government or community charities, leaving those resources for those who cannot get them elsewhere. The Humanitarian Aid program provides initiatives that serve people regardless of faith. Donations to that fund are used exclusively to provide the actual care, with the administrative costs paid for through other church funds. The totals of moneys spent listed on the LDS website do not represent the full cost of services given, since it does not include those administrative costs, nor does it include the many other programs operated by the Church.
Mormons also donate 1,821 dollars a year to non-LDS charities and causes. These donations are in addition to their tithing. 88.8 percent of Mormons who are active in the Church pay a full ten percent tithe, as taught in the Bible.
One unique humanitarian program carried out by Mormons is the Fast Offering. One Sunday a month, Mormons go without food or drink for twenty-four hours—skipping two meals—and then donate the money saved to assist people in their congregation who are in need of food or shelter. This is an important aspect of the commandment to take care of our own. Mormons believe we should take care of those in our circles whenever possible. By going hungry for 24 hours, Mormons are able to prevent long-term hunger among their friends. This also helps them to gain a small understanding of what it means to be hungry in a world that seems to have plenty. Their temporary and voluntary hunger each month increases their compassion for those in need.
Mormon charitable giving of time and money is rooted in a commandment to become more like the Savior. Again and again, the Bible tells of the Savior’s concern for those who had the greatest need He commanded His followers to be like Him and to love their neighbors as themselves. This motivates Mormons to serve others, both in and out of the church, with their time and their money.