A faith-based organization, also called a faith-based facility, is an organization whose core values are centered around religion and/or belief, which usually draws its members from a specific faith group, and whose activities are directed towards the benefit of that faith. Faith-based organizations have been recognized as beneficial to the general well being of society, by the government and various educational and health organizations. In general, faith-based facilities provide opportunities for people who would otherwise not be able to pursue their potentials in the areas of employment, education, health services, and social services. They offer a sense of belonging and a reason to stay connected to a faith community.
The major components of faith-based organizations include the religious aspect, the community aspect, the leadership, and the programs. Many faith-based organizations are member-led. This means that faith-based organizations are generally made up of at least one religious community, with membership primarily based upon a set of beliefs. Other faith-based organizations are membership driven. These groups tend to have members with similar beliefs and practices.
In the United States, faith-based organizations receive public funding. Most faith-based organizations operate through volunteer organizations. As a private entity, faith-based organizations may not claim tax exempt status. Private entities may not be held accountable for their decisions regarding the use of public funding. Because faith-based organizations rely on donations, faith-based organizations are limited in their ability to undertake public programs.
Faith-based organizations perform a range of social services, including employment counseling, addiction recovery, elder care, and social service programs. Some faith-based organizations perform activities that further their social mission. One such organization, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has detailed information regarding its faith-based programs. SAMHSA’s web site features an online searchable directory. Users can search by state and find relevant data for each state.
On the other hand, faith-based charities tend to focus on one or two particular social service areas. They also tend to focus on particular community problems. For example, they may focus on drug abuse and alcoholism, domestic violence, child abuse, or juvenile delinquency. Although some faith-based organizations to conduct general social service programs, others work in a specialized field, such as in providing health services or combating hunger and poverty. They may also work in border communities or provide shelter to immigrant families.
Faith-based organizations tend to have several levels of involvement. At the local level, faith-based organizations may run schools or employment centers, as well as providing health care and job training. Many of these organizations operate local job training programs. Job training is a good way for workers from underrepresented faith groups to gain employment in the local economy. Many faith-based groups also participate in the economic development programs sponsored by government and private organizations.
Faith-based nonprofits also often participate in larger nationwide programs like the Domestic Volunteer Service Program (DVS). The purposes of DVS are to expand the reach of religious organizations and encourage volunteering among its members. To be eligible for a grant from the federal government or a state or local government, faith-based nonprofits must demonstrate a need for volunteers in their community. In addition, they must register with the appropriate state or local agencies. Faith-based organizations may also participate in a variety of community-based emergency shelters or sates’ programs, as well as participate in a variety of community-based or faith-based initiatives.
Faith-based nonprofits have an advantage over other nonprofit organizations when it comes to applying for federal grants. Because faith-based organizations have a tendency to have higher membership than other nonprofits, they typically have a better chance of being granted funding. Faith-based nonprofits also have an advantage when it comes to applying for federal and state grants for social services. Some faith-based organizations may be eligible for some or all of these grants, while others may not.