When I was bishop 20 years ago, my Stake President had a rule that if any ward spent more on welfare than they received in fast offerings, then he was to meet with the bishop and review every recipient, and discuss with the bishop what he was doing about getting “under budget”. I think this was done, because just like the wards, the Stake President had to answer to his Area Authority if the Stake spent more that it took in.

My ward averaged about $2000 a month in fast offerings. So $24,000 a year. I never spent more than I took in. There were ten wards in the stake, some way better off financially than mine, and some much less. A good guess for the stake for a year would be about $240,000 in fast offerings.

The SP told us at one of our Bishop Council meetings that our Stake was a net user of fast offering funds, that we spent more than we took in as a stake. He also said that he learned from a regional meeting with a 70 that the USA was a net user of fast offering funds. But then came the kicker. He said that Mexico was a net giver of fast offering funds, or that Mexico gave more than it distributed. So in other words, Mexico was helping to subsidize the USA fast offering expenditures.

Now this was about 17 years ago, and I have no idea if this is still the case, but it really made an impression on the bishops in that meeting. There were poor people in Mexico giving money that was used to help pay the mortgages of $500,000 homes in my stake.

Why do you think this happened? Is it because of the higher standard of living in the USA? Is it because the people of Mexico are used to not having much, and don’t expect the church to help them? A couple of years ago an apostle was talking to the saints in Africa, and told them the church is not wealthy. I cannot find this particular quote, and I think it conveniently disappeared from the church’s web site after the $100 Billion revelation. But it seems to be a theme that the church does not want to project wealth in poor countries, lest you get people joining just for the chance to get money. Even 45 years ago, my mission president in Chile was telling the members that the church was “pato” (Chilean slang for broke). Is this a legitimate concern for the Church?

What do you think is the case today? Is Mexico is still a net giver of fast offering funds, and the USA is a net user?