The Church has no debt. All buildings are paid for in cash (about two new congregations per day).
A Time Magazine report suggested that in 1996 the Church collected $5.2 billion in tithes. Church membership has increased 20% since then. At that time, Time Magazine estimated Church assets, which include real estate and some for-profit businesses, to be worth about $30 billion. This money is meticulously managed in order to maximize its benefits, benefits which include an extensive humanitarian program. According to Time, if the Church were a cooperation, it would be listed on the Fortune 500 above Nike and the Gap. How does the Church have so much?
- Faithful members of the Church pay 10% of their income, called tithing, in addition to “fast offerings,” which are used to support the poor. Tithing accounts for about 90% of the Church's “income,” at least in 1996.
- The Church has no paid clergy, eliminating many personnel costs.
- Because the Church emphasizes industry, many Mormons are well-off. According to Time, “There is no major Church in the U.S. as active as the Latter-day Saints in economic life, nor, per capita, as successful at it...” Of course, there are also many poor Mormons.
- About 10% of the Church's “income” comes from its financial holdings. Some of the Church's known financial holding include:
- AgReserves Inc, Salt Lake City, Utah. The largest producer of nuts in America, part of the LDS welfare system.
- Beneficial Life Insurance Co. Assets of $1.6 billion.
- Bonneville International Corporation. The 14th largest radio chain in the U.S., used to broadcast the LDS biannual General Conference as well as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's weekly program, Music and the Spoken Word.
- Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch in Orlando, Florida. The world's largest beef ranch (312,000 acres). The land alone is worth $858 million. The ranch is part of the LDS welfare system.
- Farmland Reserve, Inc. Owns 228,000 acres in Nebraska, second only to Ted Turner's 290,000. Also owns land east of Orlando, appraised at $10 million. The reserve is part of the LDS welfare system.
- Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii. The leading for-profit visitor attraction in Hawaii.
Reading this list, the tendency is to imagine the Church as a massive, faceless, capitalistic organization, but this is far from the case. Despite these financial assets, the Church is a non-profit organization. Imagine the influence for good this much money has...imagine the children in Africa getting their immunizations, the impoverished in Brazil getting student loans, the poor and the rich worshiping together. The power for good is unimaginable.