My son is under the impression that the general authorities are just making a lot of money, and that they “know what’s going on” , but hide it from the public. -So, do the general authorities get an income for serving in the church? If so, how much?
I’m going to start out with the conclusion and then you can read how I got there.
There is nothing wrong with General Authorities making a salary–especially when they do NOT come from the donations of the Church. Not only are they the LOWEST paid on the entire list, they’re paid less than one tenth the rate that other “gold standard” charities pay their executives.
Let me point out a few facts about their salaries or living allowances before we get to that number.
1) The compensation they receive is not from Tithing dollars of the Church or any other donations. Their compensation comes from the for-profit entities of the Church.
2) They are active executives of a very large international corporation (financially and legally speaking, even the Church itself is considered a corporation).
3) Almost all of the general authorities made a LOT more in the private sector than they do now as a General Authority. So, whatever their current salary is, it is a step down from where they used to be.
- Pres Nelson and Elder Renlund were both very successful surgeons. Average surgeon salaries in the US are around $400,000. And these two were very experienced and successful surgeons. They probably made a whole lot more.
- Elder Rasband was a senior executive at Huntsman Chemical Corporation. Yes, he took a step down for a salary at a charity.
- Elder Bednar was the President of Ricks College (and helped convert to BYU Idaho). Professors there currently make up to $140,000/yr. I was unable to find the president’s salary, but you know it’s higher than that.
- Elder Anderson was the vice president of a very successful hospital in Tampa, FL. Average for hospital executives are around $500,000.
- Elder Uchtdorf was a Captain at Lufthansa. They start out at $180,000 and can go a lot higher. He probably made (in today’s dollars) over $200,000 as a pilot. But he went on to become an executive at the airline. And airline executives can make into the millions. Based on his position, it would not quite have reached that high, but it would have been in the high 6 figures.
Do you really think these guys left their professions because of the money?
Let’s compare to large charities that are considered “highly efficient.” (Data gathered from multiple sources. Mostly from Charity Navigator).
The “Revenue” column is their annual revenue (2018). The “Executive Salary” was the salary of the CEO, President, or other executive level salary. The “Percentage” column is the executive salary as a percentage of the revenue.
It is interesting to note that the popular charity website Charity Navigator gives Goodwill a 100% score. Anything at 90% or above is considered a gold standard. And each of the charities above are in the 90% or higher range. But 100% is rare. The reason Goodwill got it is that none of the donated funds are used to pay executive salaries. They are used to pay for the beneficiaries of the charity (the poor). The executives are paid by the for-profit branches of the organization.
So, if the Church were to be rated by that site, they would also get a 100% score.
Another good comparison would probably be the Salvation Army, since, they too are a church. (as a church, they are unrated by Charity Navigator).
Salvation Army $ 2,040,000.00 $ 126,920.00 0.0622%
Based on the percentage of executive salary to revenue, that is a lot worse, actually.
Now let’s take a look at General Authorities.
CoJCoLDS $ 5,000,000,000.00* $ 120,000.00 0.0026%
*The $5B figure is approximate. But it is around the common number thrown around by both friends and enemies of the Church.
You see those percentages right. That is not a decimal point error. Not only are they the LOWEST paid on the entire list, they’re paid less than one tenth the rate that other “gold standard” charities pay their executives. The only one that comes close is Goodwill. And they got a perfect score. So, if the Church got a score, they’d get something better than perfect.
I know several individuals who make around that salary or a lot more. And they work hard for their money. But none of them “envy” the lives of General Authorities because of their workload and responsibilities when compared to their compensation.
So, to answer your question: Do they make a lot of money? Depends on what you call “a lot”. Many people with 20 to 30 years of experience in their fields make about that much or more. It is certainly above average. But it is nothing outrageous. The last I read, the IT manager for the Church makes $140,000/yr. This is more than the Prophet is paid. And that IT manager could be making double that, easy, for the same work at a for-profit corporation. And others in the same salary range often do not have to do nearly as much work as our GAs do. And none of our General Authorities are paid by the donations from the members of the Church.
The people who tout these “high salaries” are only doing so to sow dissension. It has nothing to do with it being right or wrong. There is nothing wrong or nefarious about our church leaders making a salary — especially when it is not from the donations of the members of the Church.