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Social Capital, Race, and Personal Fundraising in Evangelical Outreach Ministries


  • Acknowledgments: The author would like to express gratitude to the parachurch directors and workers who so graciously took the time to participate in this study. Thanks go to George Yancey for his aid in constructing and fielding the survey instrument used for this research, and to James Murphy for his statistical support. Thanks also go to two JSSR editors, Marie Cornwall and Laura Olson, four anonymous reviewers, and Robert B. Owens for their feedback at various stages of the article. Finally, special thanks go to Jill Perry for her encouragement and sacrifice.

Correspondence should be addressed to Samuel L. Perry, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago, 1126 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. E-mail:


This study examines the relationship between social capital inequality, race, and personal fundraising within evangelical outreach ministries (EOMs). Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data that assess the personal fundraising experiences and outcomes of a large sample of EOM workers (N = 715), I demonstrate that the fundraising challenges and deficits faced by EOM workers are best understood as deficits in the social capital of these individual workers. Multivariate analyses affirm that social capital deficits (that is, having smaller social networks and networks with fewer resources) negatively affect the fundraising experiences and outcomes of EOM workers, especially for racial minorities. Findings also evidence a strong correlation between the paucity of minority EOM workers’ social capital and the extent to which they must seek bridging social capital from white individuals and churches. This study concludes with implications for the financing of American evangelical parachurch organizations, the sustained racial and socioeconomic homogeneity of EOMs, and theories of social capital exchanges within interracial religious organizations.