The Capacities and Challenges of Faith-Based Human Service Organizations

Authors


Richard M. Clerkin is an assistant professor of public administration at North Carolina State University. His current research focuses on advocacy and accountability in the nonprofit sector and the use of charitable gaming to explore the paradoxes and tensions nonprofits face in pursuing their missions.
E-mail:rmclerki@ncsu.edu.

Kirsten A. Grønbjerg holds the Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy at the Center on Philanthropy, and she is a professor of public and environmental affairs at Indiana University–Bloomington. She is currently directing a major research project titled “Indiana Nonprofits: Scope and Community Dimensions.”
E-mail:kgronbj@indiana.edu.

Abstract

This essay addresses four questions by comparing the management capacities and challenges of congregations, faith-based organizations, and secular organizations that provide human services: (1) What role, if any, do congregations and faith-based organizations currently play in the social service delivery system? (2) Are congregations interested in changing their role in the social service delivery system? (3) Compared to faith-based and secular organizations, do congregations have the capacity to adapt to new roles in the social service delivery system? Finally, (4) compared to faith-based and secular organizations, do congregations have similar service capacities and management challenges? The findings indicate that although more than half of congregations already provide some type of health or human services, they provide a narrower range of services, consider these services a lower priority, and seem to encounter more extensive management challenges than faith-based and secular organizations.

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