News Release

LDS Charities: Changing Filipino Lives

Partnering with NGOs such as the Catholic Relief Services, the 7th Marine Brigade, Rotary Club of San Juan, Nova Foundation and other NGOs,  LDS Charities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, changes lives at the local level as they provide relief to the Filipino people.

In an interview with Benson Misalucha, director of the Church’s Welfare Department, the following discussion illuminates the purposes and procedures of this service oriented organization.  On Elder Misalucha’s desk sits a prominent stone with this inscription by Albert Einstein, “In the Middle of Difficulty Lies Opportunity.”  This visual reminder guides the overall philosophy of LDS Charities.

Q: How is LDS Charities connected to the Church organization?

A: The legal entity of the Church in the Philippines is the Area Presidency. LDS Charities was established as the foundational arm of the Church to serve the needs of the community. The Church itself takes care of its members’ welfare needs as well as those not of our faith.

Q: What does the Welfare Department of the Church do?

A: It exists to help the local and area leaders meet the needs of the poor and the needy. The Priesthood are given this charge by the Lord Himself in both the Bible and The Book of Mormon.

Q: Where does the financing come from for humanitarian projects sponsored by LDS Charities?

A: Funding comes from the individual nation’s members and from those not of our faith; donations are received from individuals, organizations and businesses who recognize that 100% of the money raised goes to the projects themselves (all organizational costs are covered by the Church and not by LDS Charities funds.). “We consider these to be sacred funds, the ‘widow’s mite,’ and they are carefully guarded and distributed. We don’t even cover any of the organizational costs of our partners. 

Q: What are your responsibilities?

A: My focus is to bring the potential of the Charities programs to the fore. We are charged with meeting the expectations and needs as they develop. We open the doors for partners to help us on each humanitarian project and for people to contribute. We never have trouble volunteering during a disaster. Our people respond quickly and responsibly and with enthusiasm.

Q: How are volunteers trained?

A: The volunteers work under “Mormon Helping Hands.” Our copyrighted logo shows two hands reaching towards each other. One hand is blue, the color of the Church’s logo; the other hand is green, the color of life, representing changing lives. They are on a field of yellow, the color of hope. Our volunteers wear bright yellow vests with this logo on the pocket when they arrive for disaster relief or other humanitarian projects.

On the job training during disaster relief operations is what counts. We do not provide classes or certification before they arrive. They simply learn as they go. As a group, the volunteers’ motives are pure and they have a sincere desire to be of service and help any way they can. They are not afraid to get dirty or to work long hours helping those whom they have come to serve.

Q: What percent of time and money go to disaster relief efforts?

A: Disaster Relief takes precedent over everything else. Our entire welfare department staff knows that their first responsibility is respond in the event of a disaster. All other projects take a back seat. The most important element of disaster relief is immediate and accurate assessment of the needs. Our NGOs will partner with us on the ground, along with the Barangay Captains and City Mayors. Our own “Mormon Helping Hands” volunteers become our auditors and give us the feedback about how the individual relief action is working. There is a system of checks and balances. We like partnering with the Marines and other military because they insure order, organization and security during the disaster relief operations.

Q: How do you measure the success of any given project?

A: There are no global metrics. Our main goal is to remain within budget and we have an excellent finance department who help us to accomplish that. Other than with disaster relief operations, we measure whether or not an initiative becomes sustainable or is able to be replicated. 

Q: How do you find partnerships?

A: Some come to us for help with a particular project, some we become aware of through public exposure and we find that the Lord keeps leading us to those who can help meet our objective to alleviate suffering and poverty.

Q: Why do you personally like being involved with welfare and LDS Charities?

A: This organization serves the people’s needs. Our prophet has said that the poor will always be among us. When the Savior returns, he will be among the poor and that is where I will be. What makes me the happiest is not the giving, but in seeing the change after they have received.

Q: What are the major initiatives for LDS Charities?

A: The area initiatives are: emergency response, wheelchair training and distribution, vision treatment, providing potable water, neonatal resuscitation training, and home food production. The first set of initiatives involve partnering with other religious organizations and NGOs, but the last is handled through the local congregational leadership. We have been blessed to have strong leadership on the ground. 

“When you are in the service of your fellowmen, you are only in the service of your God.” (Mosiah 2:17)  Members of the Church, working with the LDS Charities and their partners, move swiftly and successfully to bring relief to the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, the victims of natural and manmade disasters, changing lives in the very act of giving.


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.