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What a difference a faith makes….

Today, NPC launched ‘What a difference a faith makes – insights on faith-based charities’—a pretty timely report that works to highlight the work of faith-based organisations.

I’m often asked what I do for a living—and when I explain I work for FaithAction, I usually get asked, ‘Why faith?’ This report sums why up quite nicely.  More than a quarter of all charities in Great Britain have an association with faith, and this brings distinctive attributes, for which this grounding in faith can:

  • Help them stay motivated and persevere with causes others may see as hopeless;
  • Make them more resilient to changes in the policy and funding environment;
  • Enable them to engage ‘hard-to-reach’ and ‘vulnerable’ groups in our society; and
  • Allow them to deliver culturally appropriate services that consider a person’s spiritual needs

Other statistics of interest:

  • Nearly two-thirds of these charities are Christian or of Christian tradition.
  • In the past ten years, a high proportion of faith-based charities (34%) were registered with the Charity Commission than non faith-based (25%).
  • £16.3bn (23%) of the total income of registered charities in England and Wales is received by faith-based charities.
  • 80% of this income is received by 4% (1,719) of organisations that have an income of over £1m per year.

But what influence does faith have on a charity?  This report highlights that:

  • Faith is seen to contribute to a charity’s ability to reach and developing trusting relationships with beneficiaries.
  • Faith was also reported to be linked to an ability to collaborate.
  • Faith-based charities reported challenges similar to those expected from non faith-based charities.
  • Impact measured related to improving the lives of beneficiaries, demonstrating impact against goals and reaching beneficiaries were important.

However, there is a lack of knowledge of what faith-based charities do—and that can lead to both challenges and concerns.  The report picks up that ‘faith-based charities and commentators on the faith-based sector have repeatedly highlighted the fears that others may have about engaging and working with faith-based charities, because the source of their motivation is faith’.  It goes on to say that ‘at the forefront of many concerns is proselytismattempts by those of faith to convert people to their beliefand particularly in the context of working with vulnerable people who may be easily influenced’.

This is why the work of FaithAction is so important.  We know the difference faith-based charities make locally and nationally, and we’re keen to highlight that to anyone!  And we’re keen to support that work too, through our training and resources which are open to any faith-based charities.  What’s more, in our work as the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Faith and Society, we’re looking at how to tackle some of the stigma that faith-based charities and groups face locally with the Faith Covenant – a joint commitment between faith communities and local authorities to a set of principles that guide engagement, aiming to remove some of the mistrust that exists and to promote open, practical working on all levels.  So why not help us by looking at some of our current programmes and getting in touch?

And going back to people asking me why faith—I might just carry some copies of NPC’s brilliant report with me to give to them…