The fast offering program of the Church has long been an inspiration to me. It is such a powerful concept, a way that we can all participate in helping the poor and needy among us. There are no overhead expenses, so 100% of what you donate will help someone, and personal care and attention goes into that help. How grateful I am for that program.
Latter-day Saints often assume that the best way to help the needy is to be generous in our donations through the fast offering program. Please be as generous as you can, but if you have more to give, please don’t let your generosity stop there. In some cases, there are real needs that Church leaders are aware of that are difficult to address through the official fast offering program because of the wise restrictions and guidelines in its use. When I was a bishop, I truly appreciated a few generous souls who simply handed me cash and told me to find a good use for it – uses that fast offerings couldn’t address. The donors weren’t able to get a receipt or a tax deduction for this kindness, but there were several people in great need who were able to get more direct help through such means. Others would provide service or goods or cash directly to people they knew were in distress. Yes, fast offerings are wonderful, but sometimes alternate routes can provide further inspired help for those in need. In any case, I hope we can all strive to be more generous and thoughtful of those around us, especially those in times of hardship and financial stress. Recognize that throwing cash around makes some problems worse, so be wise and prayerful in what you do.