How-to Series: Everyone Can Give Fast Offerings
Contributed By Ryan Brown, Church News contributor
- The “How To” channel posted videos about fast offerings to help explain the great benefits of fast offerings.
“It is a commandment so simple that a child can understand it. It is a commandment with a wonderful promise for those in need and for us. It is the law of the fast.” —President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency
With fast Sunday approaching, it can be easy to think more about the missed meals and the physical discomfort than the spiritual opportunities that come from fasting. This week the “How To” channel posted videos about fast offerings to help explain the great benefits of fast offerings.
Law of the fast
It’s easy to summarize the law of the fast: the Lord has commanded us to fast for two meals each month and to give the money we would have spent on those two meals to those in need. Church leaders have designated one Sunday a month as a day of fasting—this is generally the first Sunday of the month, unless moved due to general conference or stake conferences. We’re also counseled to fast at other times to receive special blessings or to help others.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency called the law of the fast a commandment “that we each can do.” He said, “It is a commandment so simple that a child can understand it. It is a commandment with a wonderful promise for those in need and for us. It is the law of the fast” (“Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen?” Apr. 2015 general conference).
In the video “How To—Claim the Blessings of the Fast for Yourself and Your Family,” President Eyring tells the story of Sister Abie Turay, a member in Sierra Leone. When she was fleeing rebels and had to leave her home, Sister Turay received a blanket and a shirt from a bale of Church-donated clothing.
That shirt and blanket mean so much to Sister Turay that she keeps them to this day.
But fasting and giving a fast offering don’t just benefit the people who receive help from fast offerings. We know from the teachings of modern prophets and from the Book of Mormon that fasting is a critical part of our own spiritual growth.
In Alma 17:3–4 we learn that the sons of Mosiah had “given themselves to much prayer, and fasting.” This dedication led to them receiving the Spirit and enabled them to teach the Lamanites “with power and authority of God.”
Who can donate?
One amazing thing about fast offerings is that anyone can fast and donate—you don’t have to be a Church member. Although some might think it strange or difficult to go without food for two meals, the combined benefit of millions of members fasting and donating is undeniable.
As Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin taught: “Fast offerings are used for one purpose only: to bless the lives of those in need. Every dollar given to the bishop as a fast offering goes to assist the poor” (“The Law of the Fast,” Apr. 2001 general conference).
To donate, visit the Online Donations quick link on the LDS.org home page, or donate in-person by using a tithing and fast offering slip and giving the donation to a bishopric member.
The video “How to Give a Fast Offering” shows how fast offerings can be donated.
What happens to fast offering funds?
The bishop helps the family in need develop a plan for getting them back on their feet.
Local bishops determine how to use the fast offering funds appropriately. The donations are primarily used to help members obtain necessary goods and services.
When a family is in need, bishops first meet with the family and assess their resources. They discuss how family members, friends, and others are helping meet immediate needs. Sometimes, families need assistance from the Church to get by for a short time. The bishop helps the family develop a plan for getting them back on their feet. Many needs can be met by using Church commodities from storehouses and Deseret Industries, such as food, clothing, and other basic needs.
The bishop works primarily with the Relief Society president to help the family. For needs outside of Church-available resources (which are also funded by fast offerings), bishops can use donated funds to purchase needed supplies or help support the family in other ways. If necessary, the bishop may refer the member to community resources and can use fast offering funds to pay for those services, such as for professional counseling.
If donations in one ward or stake are greater than the need in that area, the surplus is used to help those in need around the world.
In the video “How To—Help People in Times of Need through Fast Offerings,” one family in Haiti explains how they did all they could to support themselves after an earthquake. But even after all their efforts they still needed financial help—so they met with their bishop, who assisted them using fast offerings. It’s a powerful reminder that fast offerings are used to help those in the most need.
This fast Sunday, watch the “How To” channel’s videos about fast offerings to learn more about how these sacred funds are used to help others.