Aaron Miller, who teaches nonprofit management and ethics in the Romney Institute at BYU, has two excuses why the LDS Church doesn’t contribute more to humanitarian causes.
- Unexpected negative impacts
- It’s hard to do.
To quote Aaron:
A recent study by my colleagues Curtis Child and Eva Witesman showed that in prosocial initiatives, people are prone to assume only good outcomes and not anticipate bad ones. This is despite the reality that unintended negative consequences and waste are a constant risk of philanthropic giving.
All significant actions have the potential for unintended consequences. I used to work as a water resource planner. All of our projects had the potential for negative impacts. Does that mean you should not pursue the projects if the benefits far out way the costs? No, but it does mean you should mitigate any negative impacts. Aaron’s reasoning here is unconvincing.
Aaron goes on:
Distributing a huge amount like $100 billion in a way that has a reliable, positive impact would be very, very hard to do, and would require a kind of effort far beyond what people realize.
I don’t know how to respond this assertion. Nobody is saying the Church needs to give away the whole $100B. And nobody has suggested that donating large amounts to humanitarian efforts would be easy. The Church has had 35 years experience giving away its relatively small $2.2B. Certainly they’ve learned enough to serious ramp up their humanitarian efforts. The Church should be giving away at least $2.2B/yr. I agree it may take a little time to reach that goal, but let’s get started. Since when does the Church walk away from challenges?
The 4th mission of the Church is to help the poor. Let’s make a serious effort. This is a no-brainer, the Church needs to do more.