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Our son is working right now and saving for his mission, but our bishop said not to wait because "the money is there." I guess we have some generous people in our ward? 

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7 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Here’s a tip if you are supporting a son or daughter on a mission. Do not make payments to his/her Church mission fund account in advance of what (s)he needs. You will not get money returned to you that your missionary ends up not receiving. The best you can expect is that the surplus funds will be transferred into the ward’s general missionary fund. 
 

This means you should keep careful track of the balance in your missionary’s account. There should not be a carry-over from month to month. 
 

Periodically — maybe once a month — ask your ward assistant clerk-finances to pull you a printout or send you a PDF reporting your missionary’s account status. Check to see if there have been others making donations to the account. If so, only pay enough for the respective month to total the $400 monthly commitment. 
 

Don’t be shy about asking the assistant clerk for this report. Accommodating you in this manner is in line with the duties of his calling. 
 

Also, postpone paying for the last month of the mission, particularly if you expect the missionary to be there for only part of the month. The Church will likely charge you for only a partial payment commensurate with how much of the month the missionary was in the mission. You can pay any remaining balance later, after the accounting shakes out and you can see what the remainder is. 

I actually stopped paying 2 months before.  I checked about every 2-3 months with my son.  The first year $5 was donated to my son's account.  Then about 9 months before he came home quite a bit more was donated regularly. When he had about 3 months left I paid enough to make things even at that point, but it was less than $400.  That was the last payment I needed to make.  Sometime in the last 2 months enough was donated to cover the rest.

Things you may need to talk to the clerk about (they don't all know what can be done):

• how much you owe or are ahead

• that they can just text the amount, you don't need a printout

• that you don't need names or amounts of donations

• the first and last months are now prorated - if you pay $400 the first month it will most likely be off the 2nd month.  That's fine - just don't get confused when it is off

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I've found it kind of funny how some people react to the info when I've talked about here or other places.  Most are grateful.  Some react offended by it because it would be dishonest with the Lord to pay anything other than the full amount. I just felt blessed both on my mission and while my son was gone. It was humbling to let others help.

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3 hours ago, MorningStar said:

Our son is working right now and saving for his mission, but our bishop said not to wait because "the money is there." I guess we have some generous people in our ward? 

Perhaps the bishop is referring to resources available in the ward missionary fund. He might be of the opinion — and I agree with him if he is — that no worthy, able and willing young man or woman ought to be prevented or hindered from serving a mission due to inability to pay for it. 
 

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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2 hours ago, Rain said:

I actually stopped paying 2 months before.  I checked about every 2-3 months with my son.  The first year $5 was donated to my son's account.  Then about 9 months before he came home quite a bit more was donated regularly. When he had about 3 months left I paid enough to make things even at that point, but it was less than $400.  That was the last payment I needed to make.  Sometime in the last 2 months enough was donated to cover the rest.

Things you may need to talk to the clerk about (they don't all know what can be done):

• how much you owe or are ahead

• that they can just text the amount, you don't need a printout

• that you don't need names or amounts of donations

• the first and last months are now prorated - if you pay $400 the first month it will most likely be off the 2nd month.  That's fine - just don't get confused when it is off

Speaking as one who a short time ago had access to finance functions in Leader and Clerk Resources, I’d find it quicker and more convenient just to run a printout for or send it as a PDF attachment in an email to the parents. And as a parent, I’m interested to know, in the event other donations were made, when and how much they were, even if the individual donors are not identified. My preference is for more information, not less — within reason, of course. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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9 hours ago, bluebell said:

Why won't the church make this information available without having to ask the clerk?  It's very annoying not to know what is in your missionary's account without having to track someone down and request it.

This is a commonly requested feature and the secondhand rumor is that the Church is working on it. The key difficulty is probably giving access in a very limited way so only the balance is available and not any records beyond that. 

Yes, it is a pain.

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2 hours ago, Rain said:

I've found it kind of funny how some people react to the info when I've talked about here or other places.  Most are grateful.  Some react offended by it because it would be dishonest with the Lord to pay anything other than the full amount. I just felt blessed both on my mission and while my son was gone. It was humbling to let others help.

I agree with you on this. Ideally, a person’s mission ought to be a communal experience in which others — relatives, friends, ward members, co-workers, even strangers — participate as they can. There is no shame at all in letting them have that privilege. 
 

And if the missionary (or his or her immediate family) ends up paying less, or even nothing at all, out of pocket, so much the better, say I. As it is, the missionary is already making great sacrifice in time, labor, talent and devotion. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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It's good advice.

Our ward takes the donations to the Ward missionary item on the donation slip and evenly divides the money between the currently serving missionaries.  Ward members are encouraged to instead donate directly to the missionaries to make it easier on the clerk and Bishop.  We also have a generous member who donates $100 a month to every missionary.  With online donations, it's easy to donate to missionaries in your ward or another ward (just need the ward number).

So it's not a good idea to just deposit $400 every month for your missionary without checking with the Bishop and financial clerk.  The Church automatically takes the money for missionaries out of the ward account every month so the Bishop knows if they are running low on funds. Your missionary will still get their money even if you are late with a payment.  So the easiest thing to do is ask the clerk to let you know when the next payment is needed (and how much to pay).

I believe donations to the General Missionary category on the donation slip are sent to SLC and can't be used locally, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

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6 hours ago, Rain said:

I've found it kind of funny how some people react to the info when I've talked about here or other places.  Most are grateful.  Some react offended by it because it would be dishonest with the Lord to pay anything other than the full amount. I just felt blessed both on my mission and while my son was gone. It was humbling to let others help.

True.  We have a missionary that worked very hard to save up over $10k for his mission.  He won't need that amount since others have donated, but I think he should still feel satisfied that he was prepared to pay for his entire mission.  No reason to feel guilty if you don't spend it all.

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7 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Speaking as one who a short time ago had access to finance functions in Leader and Clerk Resources, I’d find it quicker and more convenient just to run a printout for or send it as a PDF attachment in an email to the parents. And as a parent, I’m interested to know, in the event other donations were made, when and how much they were, even if the individual donors are not identified. My preference is for more information, not less — within reason, of course. 

I get it.  What I was trying to say us that there are a whole lot of options available, but many clerks don't know it.  The clerks in my ward didn't know the amount hadn't changed, that they could give that info to me without sharing anonymous names, that they changed to prorated in the middle of my son's mission and other things and when I asked for some of that info I had troubles getting it.  I only knew because I was part of the Missionary Mommas Facebook page. It is one of the reasons I shared it here when I found out.

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2 hours ago, gopher said:

True.  We have a missionary that worked very hard to save up over $10k for his mission.  He won't need that amount since others have donated, but I think he should still feel satisfied that he was prepared to pay for his entire mission.  No reason to feel guilty if you don't spend it all.

Yes.  Realistically when he comes back if he is planning on having a family or a job where he can share his blessings with others then any money leftover that is going to his education or to a home for his family etc is still going to the Lord - with the help he received he just gets to choose a different way to help in the Lord’s plan.

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17 hours ago, bluebell said:

Why won't the church make this information available without having to ask the clerk?  It's very annoying not to know what is in your missionary's account without having to track someone down and request it.

I am a finance clerk and we do let the parents know if they are behind in their payments. Usually, the parents are already well aware of what the status is. We always keep a surplus in the Ward missionary account for those who need the help. It's different in different wards but "tracking" someone down isn't all that hard. A simple email or text to the bishop or clerk will get a response. They can look it up immediately on their computer. The member can also check their donation history on their own computer. 

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6 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I am a finance clerk and we do let the parents know if they are behind in their payments. Usually, the parents are already well aware of what the status is. We always keep a surplus in the Ward missionary account for those who need the help. It's different in different wards but "tracking" someone down isn't all that hard. A simple email or text to the bishop or clerk will get a response. They can look it up immediately on their computer. The member can also check their donation history on their own computer. 

But looking up their contact info and texting or emailing them and then waiting to hear back is still harder than just having the information available online whenever you want it.  (I'm not referring to the donation history but rather the "bill" due for a serving missionary.)

:) 

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I doubt this is new news to any of you but just in case, do not ever pay a mission in full in case something happens and a missionary cannot complete the mission because once it's paid it's impossible to get the funds back, or correct if I'm wrong anyone. 

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10 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I doubt this is new news to any of you but just in case, do not ever pay a mission in full in case something happens and a missionary cannot complete the mission because once it's paid it's impossible to get the funds back, or correct if I'm wrong anyone. 

You're right.  Scott made that point early on (in the OP maybe?).  I have a friend who knows that and is going to pay it all anyway, because they are fine with any "refund" going into the ward missionary fund.  But if you want to keep any money that doesn't go to your missionary (and there is nothing wrong with wanting to keep it), then pay monthly.

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5 minutes ago, bluebell said:

But looking up their contact info and texting or emailing them and then waiting to hear back is still harder than just having the information available online whenever you want it.  (I'm not referring to the donation history but rather the "bill" due for a serving missionary.)

:) 

Yes.  Especially if you are already paying online every month.  If I go to pay and I see what is "due" that month like with my electricity and water bills there is actually no extra work at all for tens of thousands of missionary families and their ward clerks every month. The reason I only checked every few months was because I knew that was one more thing on the clerk's plate. 

I think one of the problems may be who has access to that info as parents aren't always the ones who should have it.

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Good info.  I have a son going in 19 months, which will be my first to go out.  So different from my mission.

My mission was $120/month to start.  The mission office would keep $40 a month for rent and return the $80 in local currency to us. Native missionaries paid $40/ month and still received $80/month in local currency.

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37 minutes ago, Rain said:

I think one of the problems may be who has access to that info as parents aren't always the ones who should have it.

That’s a valid point. The information should be available to the person or persons who make the commitment to provide the primary financial support to the missionary. In some unusual cases, that might not be the parents. It could be grandparents or other relatives — or even friends. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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18 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Finance clerk here - @Scott Lloyd speaks the truth.  Although I'd add one thing:  Parents sending missionaries on missions - pay your bills, or make arrangements early.  There's nothing wrong with "Bishop, my kid is ready to serve, but I don't know how we're going to pay for it."   I've seen a handful of cases where parents just let things slide and end up owing several grand.  At best, you're asking for an awkward meeting with the Bishop after your kid comes home, and you've turned him into a bill collector.  I mean, why bother raising your hand to sustain someone you're gonna do that to?  Deal with your embarrassment please - it's only going to grow.   You may get called to do time as one of his counselors for a few years.  The principle of service is alive and well in church welfare programs, and you've just back-ended yourself into needing church welfare because you couldn't deal with a little embarrassment earlier in the process.  You're better than that.

 

Or...some families really can't afford to save or send their kid on a mission and need church welfare to get by.  There is nothing wrong with that either.

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1 hour ago, JAHS said:

I am a finance clerk and we do let the parents know if they are behind in their payments. Usually, the parents are already well aware of what the status is. We always keep a surplus in the Ward missionary account for those who need the help. It's different in different wards but "tracking" someone down isn't all that hard. A simple email or text to the bishop or clerk will get a response. They can look it up immediately on their computer. The member can also check their donation history on their own computer. 

The above is all good for making sure one stays current on paying the monthly commitment. 
 

The potential problem, as I see it, arises when others donate to my missionary’s fund without my knowing about it (and currently, if the donor doesn’t tell me, the only way to know is to ask the bishopric or a clerk). If I’m never aware of it and I keep paying the full monthly amount, then my son ends up at the end of his mission with a surplus, and that overpayment is not refundable to me. 

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7 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

The above is all good for making sure one stays current on paying the monthly commitment. 
 

The potential problem, as I see it, arises when others donate to my missionary’s fund without my knowing about it (and currently, if the donor doesn’t tell me, the only way to know is to ask the bishopric or a clerk). If I’m never aware of it and I keep paying the full monthly amount, then my son ends up at the end of his mission with a surplus, and that overpayment is not refundable to me. 

Its because your amount is a donation and the amount others make is also a donation.

If you don't want to donate, don't donate. if others don't want to donate, they shouldn't donate.  Implicit in the concept of donations, is that others use your money how they want to, not how you want to. (I believe it is also explicit on the donation form).

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Danzo said:

Its because your amount is a donation and the amount others make is also a donation.

If you don't want to donate, don't donate. if others don't want to donate, they shouldn't donate.  Implicit in the concept of donations, is that others use your money how they want to, not how you want to. (I believe it is also explicit on the donation form).

 

 

I understand all that and have no problem with it. It’s just that if others have contributed to my missionary’s fund, thereby lessening the burden on my family in meeting the $400-per-month commitment, I want to know about it so that we can have the flexibility to redirect some household funds (or his personal funds, as the case may be) to his education or otherwise launching him on his life’s journey as an adult after he returns home. 

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17 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

I understand all that and have no problem with it. It’s just that if others have contributed to my missionary’s fund, thereby lessening the burden on my family in meeting the $400-per-month commitment, I want to know about it so that we can have the flexibility to redirect some household funds (or his personal funds, as the case may be) to his education or otherwise launching him on his life’s journey as an adult after he returns home. 

you are and always have been free to use any of those funds for his education.

No one gets sent home from their mission for not paying. The church is not going to sue you or put a lien on your house (or his if he has a house).   

the 400.00 per month donation is just a suggestion (A strong suggestion, I admit), it isn't enforced.  I know of many people who served missions that didn't pay a dime into the mission fund. I know others (My self included at times) who have paid into the fund without a missionary.  When I donate to the fund, I don't expect that the missionary or their family won't donate a certain amount because I donate.  For me its a donation. I know that the church spends on average much more than the 400.00 per month on each missionary so I hope my donation will contribute to the continuation of the missionary program, not so that one particular missionary or their family can now feel they can donate less. 

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