Fostering Effective Grassroots Partnerships: Lessons from Faith-Based and Community Initiatives


This brief outlines key themes and guidelines based on several Mathematica studies of faith-based and community organizations and initiatives, which have been encouraged by federal policies to take on more partnerships with public agencies.

Studies show that reaching out to and partnering with small organizations that work to serve local communities allows public agencies to make connections with these communities and learn about issues they may otherwise be unaware of or have difficulty understanding. Such partnerships also help faith-based and community organizations, which have difficulty maintaining operations because of limited administrative and service capacity, the report says.

There was significant growth in such partnerships from 2001 to 2004, but the lines between faith-based and secular organizations have become blurred, because groups identify themselves differently for various funding purposes and deal with faith-based themes depending on who their clients are.

The report makes recommendations for public agencies working with faith-based or community organizations including: Develop a plan for managing the partnership, which includes understanding the strengths and weaknesses of parties involved; invest in training to build organizational capacity; and provide assistance or monitoring to maintain a high-quality partnership.

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