Faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pay one-tenth of their income as tithing, and often give more in the form of fast offerings and other donations. Church officials use these funds to support the Church’s many functions, including the building and maintenance of temples and meetinghouses, supporting Church-owned universities and schools, humanitarian relief and more. (For more information about tithing, read “5 misconceptions about how tithing is used.”)
However, church leaders do not publicly disclose exactly how much money the Church has, where that money is spent, or how much is saved. This has led to much speculation — and criticism — from those both inside the Church and out.
How Church funds are spent notwithstanding, some independent groups have estimated how much money the LDS Church actually has. If you’ve ever been curious, here are our best (unconfirmed) guesses, largely taken from an estimate by sociologist Ryan Cragun and Reuters in 2012. Their estimate was based on records from the Church in Canada, which has certain laws requiring disclosure.
- Annual income from tithes and other donations: $7 billion
- Property values of temples and meetinghouses: $35 billion
- Total amount of land purchased in the United States: 1 million acres
- Total amount spent on relief for disasters since 1985: $1.4 billion
In an interview on the topic of the Church’s finances, Church spokesman Michael Purdy said, “Projections are speculative and do not reflect an understanding of how the Church uses its income to bless the lives of people.”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke publicly about his experience as part of the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes—the council that determines where and how tithing funds are distributed. He said:
“As the meeting progressed, I found myself wishing that all members of the Church could observe the simplicity, the clarity, the orderliness, the charity, and the power of the Lord’s own way (see D&C 104:16) for conducting the temporal affairs of His Church.”