Staff perceptions of the benefits of religion in health and human services nonprofits: evidence from international development.
|Abstract:||Some argue faith-based organizations (FBOs) provide desirable moral or spiritual components to health and human service provision, and that services are more effective due to staff's more supportive approach. However, the majority of research has been conducted in the United States, and has focused on the experiences of Christian FBOs. This article examines the benefits that FBO staff in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka believe religious identity brings to the work of their organizations, based on interviews with more than 100 staff of Buddhist, Catholic, Druze, Orthodox Christian, Protestant Christian, Shiite Muslim, and Sunni Muslim FBOs, as well as secular NGOs. The interview data indicate that staff members from most of the religious traditions included in the study believe the faith orientation of their organization brings benefits to their service provision. However, these perceived benefits differ based on country context. Some of these benefits are similar to those often mentioned in the literature on FBOs in the United States; however, other benefits are quite different than those discussed in the US literature.|
Non-governmental organizations (Services)
Christianity and other religions (Islam)
Christianity and other religions (Analysis)
|Author:||Flanigan, Shawn Teresa|
|Publication:||Name: Journal of Health and Human Services Administration Publisher: Southern Public Administration Education Foundation, Inc. Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Government; Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 Southern Public Administration Education Foundation, Inc. ISSN: 1079-3739|
|Issue:||Date: Fall, 2009 Source Volume: 32 Source Issue: 2|
|Topic:||Event Code: 200 Management dynamics; 360 Services information Computer Subject: Company business management|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: Lebanon; Sri Lanka Geographic Code: 7LEBA Lebanon; 9SRIL Sri Lanka|
The question of whether the religious orientation of nonprofit organizations influences how services are provided is at the root of policy debates over faith-based initiatives in the United States and other western countries. Those who support increased funding for faith-based health and human service provision often assert that faith-based organizations' (FBOs) services are more effective due to more caring, compassionate, and supportive approaches used by staff members motivated by faith (Chaves & Tsitsos, 2001; Ebaugh, Pipes, Saltzman Chafetz & Daniels, 2003; Ebaugh, Saltzman Chafetz & Pipes, 2005; Fischer, 2008; Frumkin, 2002; Monsma, 1996; Sherman, 1995; Singletary & Collins, 2004). International FBOs working in developing countries sometimes are perceived as exhibiting greater long-term commitment to local communities than do secular NGOs (Bradley, 2005), or having greater success due to a sense of religious solidarity they share with their clientele (Monsma, 1996; Nichols, 1988). Supporters of faith-based service provision also argue that services provided by FBOs have desirable moral and spiritual aspects that make them particularly beneficial when serving populations suffering from substance abuse, violence, and incarceration (Fischer, 2008). Research demonstrates a strong positive correlation between religious behavior and increased health and well-being, though the direction of causation remains unclear; researchers have yet to determine whether religion causes individuals to choose healthier and more positive behaviors, or if other external factors cause an individual to choose both healthy, positive behaviors and religious practice (Johnson, Tompkins, & Webb, 2002).
The degree to which FBO service provision is different from service provision by secular health and human services organizations remains under dispute. Those skeptical of service provision by FBOs remark upon a lack of empirical evidence demonstrating that services provided by FBOs are more effective than those provided by secular organizations (Fischer, 2008). While numerous studies document the effectiveness of faith-based service provision, these studies often fail to examine a control group served by a secular organization, making it impossible to evaluate if FBOs are more effective than other types of health and human service providers (Fischer, 2008). Debates regarding the influence of faith on service provision have generated a great deal of research on the benefits religious identity might add to services provided by FBOs.
However, the majority of research on the influence of faith on health and human service provision has been conducted in the United States, and these studies have focused almost exclusively on the activities of Christian FBOs. The state of current research leaves us with a number of questions. Do staff from FBOs in the developing world see any value emanating from their organizations' religious origins? If so, do these perceived benefits differ from those espoused in the United States? Are these perceived benefits the same for staff members of Christian and non-Christian FBOs? This article examines the benefits that staff of Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim FBOs believe religious identity brings to the work of their NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka. The article begins by describing ten different perceived benefits of faith in the FBO sector in the developing world, which are further illustrated with excerpts from the qualitative interview data. The article concludes by discussing commonalities in the perceived benefits of faith across country contexts and religious traditions.
This article examines staff perceptions of the benefits of faith in health and human service provision using data gathered during field research in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, and Sri Lanka during 2006 and 2007. It is important to note that the findings are limited to the perceptions of members of these NGOs, so the results do not inform us if the benefits perceived by employees' are present, or only imagined.
The author conducted 102 qualitative, semi-structured interviews with employees of more than 70 NGOs in an effort to gain a broad understanding of how religious and ethnic identity influence service provision (see Appendix A). The individuals interviewed were all management-level staff. An initial pool of potential participants was collected by e-mailing the entire population of health and social service NGOs operating in each of the three countries registered in USAID's 2005 Voluntary Agency (VolAg) Report, and that had operable web sites that could be used to code the organization as faith-based or secular. These organizations were approached because registration is a prerequisite to applying for grants or contracts with USAID, so while organizations may have other motivations for registration, it is reasonable to assume that most organizations registered are interested in receiving public funding. From those who responded, interviewees were selected by means of a purposive sample using a strategy based on religious identity. This strategy involved purposefully selecting candidates from organizations whose religion has and has not been involved in religious conflict in their geographic region. Because of the under-representation of non-Christian faith-based organizations in the USAID 2005 VolAg report, additional participants were contacted in each country based on religious identity (1) All of the organizations targeted provided health or social services to low-income populations.
For the Bosnia and Herzegovina case, a total of 41 staff members from 30 organizations were interviewed. For the Lebanon case, a total of 30 staff members from 22 organizations were interviewed. For the Sri Lanka case, a total of 31 staff members from 22 organizations were interviewed. Sixty-four of these interview participants (62.7%) were from FBOs, and 38 interview participants (37.3%) were from secular NGOs. Seventy-three interview participants (71.6%) were from local, country-based NGOs, while twenty-nine (28.4%) were from international NGOs with headquarters in a country other than the ones where the research was conducted (See Table 1).
Of the 64 interview participants from FBOs, 33 (51.6%) worked for Christian FBOs, 17 (26.6%) worked for Muslim FBOs, six (9.4%) worked for Buddhist FBOs, 5 (7.8%) worked for interfaith or "spiritual" (2) FBOs, and three (4.7%) worked for Druze FBOs. Just over 25% of the participants worked for international FBOs, with 16 participants (25%) working for international Christian FBOs, and 1 participant (1.6%) working for an international Muslim FBO (See Table 2).
An initial pool of potential participants was collected by e-mailing the entire population of health and human services NGOs operating in each of the three countries registered in USAID's 2005 Voluntary Agency (VolAg) Report, and that had operable web sites that could be used to code the organization as faith-based or secular.
Due to a lack of consensus in the academic community regarding classification of FBOs (De Vita & Wilson, 2001; Ebaugh et al., 2003; Jeavons, 1998; Smith & Sosin, 2001; Unruh, 2001), I categorized organizations as FBOs based on the organization's present-day self-identification as faith-based or secular, which was confirmed again orally during the interview process. Because of the under-representation of non-Christian FBOs in the USAID 2005 VolAg report, additional participants were contacted in each country based on religious identity. The organizations in the sample include Buddhist, Christian, Druze, interfaith or "spiritual", Shiite Muslim, and Sunni Muslim FBOs, as well as secular nonprofit organizations. However, despite efforts to formulate a religiously diverse sample it is important to note that Christian NGOs are still overrepresented in the sample for this study, with staff members from Christian FBOs making up 51% of those interviewed (See Tables 1 & 2).
PERCEIVED BENEFITS OF FAITH IN THE FBO SECTOR IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD
The interview data indicate that staff members from most of the religious traditions included in the study believe the faith orientation of their organization brings "added value" to their service provision. However, these perceived benefits differ based on religious tradition and country context. Some of these benefits are similar to those often mentioned in the literature on FBOs in the United States; however, other benefits are quite different than those discussed in the US literature. Some perceived benefits include:
* ability to promote reconciliation through service provision
* added credibility in the community
* greater respect and cultural sensitivity
* greater safety for service recipients
* less conflict and greater trust among NGO staff
* less corruption/ more accountability
* more individualized and compassionate service provision
* more highly committed and motivated workers
* more effective service provision due to church networks
* more secure funding/ more flexible use of funding
Several of these qualities are similar to those espoused by policy makers advocating faith-based service provision in the United States and other western countries. Benefits such as individualized, compassionate service provision and committed, motivated workers frequently appear in literature on FBOs in the western world. However, some of the benefits mentioned by FBOs staff in the developing world are not discussed often in the west. These benefits seem to be particularly significant for organizations operating in contexts of development.
Ability to Promote Reconciliation through Service Provision
A benefit that interview participants from Christian and Muslim FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina mentioned was that they felt their religious identity allowed them to promote understanding and reconciliation between Bosnia and Herzegovina's different ethnoreligious groups. Interview participants from Christian FBOs that followed various forms of peace theology felt that peace building was inherent to their religion's teachings and their mission. However, participants from Catholic and Muslim FBOs did not attribute opportunities for understanding and reconciliation to the teachings of their faith per se, but to the fact that inclusive service provision and outreach to other communities could promote a positive image of their religious group. As one interview participant from a Catholic FBO notes,
While participants from Muslim FBOs spoke of the ways that inclusive service provision could help promote greater understanding, they also spoke of the important role their FBO needed to play in improving impressions of Muslims in light of terror attacks in recent years. As one interview participant explains,
Added Credibility in the Community
In the context of international development, sometimes faith-based nonprofits are seen as particularly desirable partners because of their intricate knowledge of local context and a shared religious solidarity with their service recipients. These organizations are often viewed as being more firmly embedded in local communities, and more trusted by locals due to high levels of confidence in religious leaders. Even in the United States, FBOs are seen as having greater connection to and credibility within local communities because they are "home-grown" organizations whose staff members often have personal and family roots in local neighborhoods (Monsma, 1996; Nichols, 1988; Tyndale, 2006). Staff members from Christian and Shiite Muslim FBOs in Lebanon felt that the religious orientation of their NGO increased their credibility in their local community. One interview participant notes that although his organization is Christian, the religious nature of their work gives the organization added credibility even among non-Christians.
Greater Respect and Cultural Sensitivity
For several staff members in Sri Lanka, an added benefit of being a faith-based organization was that their faith orientation gave them greater respect for their service recipients, and made them more culturally sensitive. Participants from Buddhist, Christian, and "spiritual" NGOs all saw this as an important value that their faith added to their service delivery. A staff member from a Christian NGO notes
Several staff members from Buddhist FBOs noted that, because Buddhism affirms all religions, they are more easily able to work with other religious communities, including areas with very few Buddhists such as the Tamil areas on the north of the island.
Greater Safety for Service Recipients
Staff members from Christian FBOs in Lebanon noted that they think their religious identity provides greater safety for service recipients. This additional safety was attributed to the religious belief of workers, which staff members suggested ensured a protective and caring environment for service recipients. In addition, some staff members mentioned that the ability to check employee's backgrounds through Christian social networks provided a safer environment for service recipients as well. One interview participant captured both of these ideas as he described the safe service environment within his NGO.
Less Conflict and Greater Trust among NGO Staff
Staff members from both Lebanon and Sri Lanka indicated that they believe the faith orientation of their organization results in less conflict and greater trust among workers in the organization. This is attributed to an increased sense of team spirit and mutual trust, as well as having more aligned goals within the organization. While in Lebanon staff members from Christian and Muslim FBOs mentioned this as a benefit of faith, in Sri Lanka only staff from Christian FBOs mentioned this benefit. As a staff member from a Christian FBO in Sri Lanka notes:
A staff member from a Muslim organization in Lebanon notes:
Less Corruption/ More Accountability
In Sri Lanka, a country where accusations of NGO corruption run rampant (DeVotta, 2005; Hodson, 1997; Orjuela, 2005; Wanigaratne, 1997), several staff from both Buddhist and Christian FBOs indicated that they felt the faith orientation of the NGO caused their organizations to have lower levels of corruption and a greater degree of accountability. A staff member from a Christian FBO describes their greater accountability in this way,
More Individualized and Compassionate Service Provision
Staff members from Christian FBOs in Lebanon and from both Christian and Muslim FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina mentioned more individualized and compassionate service provision as one added benefit that came from their religious belief. This is a common claim made by supporters of President Bush's faith-based initiative, though academic studies of FBOs in the United States have provided varying degrees of support for this claim (Bartkowski & Regis, 1999; Branch, 2002; Chaves & Tsitsos, 2001; Ebaugh et al., 2003). International FBOs working in developing countries sometimes are perceived as exhibiting greater long-term commitment to local communities than do secular NGOs, which is said to allow for greater individualized contact (Bradley, 2005). Also, it is not unusual for Christian organizations in particular to couch their service provision as based in compassion, a notion that is central to Christian theology (Bradley, 2005). The concept of compassion is also central to other faiths such as Buddhism, which asserts that happiness comes as a result of one's compassionate words and acts (Candland, 2000). A staff member from a Christian FBO in Lebanon describes how Christian faith causes her FBO to seek more individualized solutions to people's problems.
An interview participants from a Muslim FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina indicated that she believes religion of any sort gives FBO employees more empathy for their service recipients.
More Motivated and Committed Workers
Another assertion often made in the United States context is that FBOs have more highly motivated workers and have access to a large pool of committed volunteers (Greeley, 1997; Hodgkinson, 1990; Hodgkinson, Weitzman & Kirsch, 1990; Lam, 2002). Staff members from both Christian and Muslim FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lebanon indicated that they believed religious faith caused their workers to be more committed in the face of adversity. Interview participants indicated that the evidence of this increased commitment was that their staff worked for lower pay than staff of other organizations, or were less motivated by money and prestige than staff of other organizations. As one interview participant from a Muslim FBO in Bosnia and Herzegovina explains,
A staff member from a Christian FBO in Lebanon noted that faith motivates the staff of his FBO to continue their work in spite of the financial hardships the organization faces.
More Effective Service Provision Due to Church Networks
Staff members from Christian FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka mentioned that church networks allowed them to be more effective service providers. In the context of the United States, scholars such as Campbell and Glunt (2006) suggest that local networks are an important consideration when evaluating the effectiveness of FBOs as service providers and as cooperative members of service systems. While in Bosnia and Herzegovina the value of church networks was mentioned only by staff of international NGOs, in Sri Lanka this benefit was mentioned by staff of both local and international NGOs. For international NGOs, church networks were beneficial because churches allowed the organizations broader access to the community and provided them with partners who had intimate knowledge of their communities' needs. As one staff member in Bosnia and Herzegovina mentions,
Local FBOs mentioned the value of church networks as well. For local FBOs in Sri Lanka, providing aid through churches often proved useful for avoiding bureaucratic regulations the government enforced for NGOs; in a country mired by anti-NGO sentiment (DeVotta, 2005; Hodson, 1997; Orjuela, 2005; Wanigaratne, 1997), these regulations often are viewed by the NGO sector as punitive measures that inhibit the effective provision of services. Local FBOs in Sri Lanka also mentioned the usefulness of church networks when working in areas controlled by the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE often "taxes" NGOs and exercises tight control over the NGO sector in their territory (Flanigan, 2008), but churches often are exempt from such efforts. Scholars have noted that due to their ongoing efforts at war relief, the Catholic Church in particular has been able to gain the trust of the LTTE, to the extent that they have been able to raise concerns with LTTE leadership about sensitive issues such as recruitment of child soldiers (Orjuela, 2005).
More Secure and Flexible Funding
Another benefit mentioned by interview participants from Christian FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina is that, because their funding comes from religious sources, they feel their funds are more secure and that they can use them more flexibly. All but one of the interview participants mentioning this benefit were from international FBOs. One interview participant explains,
COMPARISONS ACROSS COUNTRIES AND FAITHS
As can be seen above, many of the perceived benefits of faith in health and human service provision seem to be unique to specific country contexts as opposed to specific faith traditions. As can be seen in Table 3, four perceived benefits are shared across multiple country contexts. These benefits include less conflict and greater trust among NGO staff (Lebanon and Sri Lanka), more individualized and compassionate
service provision (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lebanon), more highly committed and motivated workers (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Lebanon), and more effective service provision due to church networks (Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka). All other perceived benefits of faith are unique to specific country contexts. Staff perceptions of the benefits faith brings to health and social service provision undoubtedly are shaped by the social and political forces present in each country. For example, the fact that FBO staff in Sri Lanka emphasize that faith causes their organizations to be less corrupt and more accountable is not surprising in a country where the prevailing sentiment is that the NGO sector is corrupt (DeVotta, 2005; Hodson, 1997; Orjuela, 2005; Wanigaratne, 1997). Staff who mentioned the value of church networks in service provision were most often from international FBOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka; while Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990, violent conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka is much more recent, and thus newly arrived international FBOs in these countries may have found church networks to be of great utility. However, more research is needed to truly grasp how the social and political contexts of individual countries' service environments influence staff perceptions of the benefits of faith.
In contrast, we see in Table 4 that most of the perceived benefits of faith reported by FBO staff are shared across multiple religious traditions. Staff from Christian FBOs reported the greatest number of benefits derived from faith, with staff from Christian FBOs reporting all ten of the perceived benefits of faith found in this study. In fact, only three of the perceived benefits of faith were unique to a single faith tradition, and all three of these were unique to Christian FBOs. These benefits include greater safety for service recipients, more effective service provision due to church networks, and more secure & flexible funding. The remaining seven perceived benefits of faith were shared across multiple religious traditions, though no single benefit was shared across all religious traditions. However, four of these seven perceived benefits- an ability to promote reconciliation through service provision, added credibility in the community, greater respect and cultural sensitivity, and less corruption/ more accountability- were reported by staff of multiple religious traditions but in a single country context.
The fact that so many benefits are unique to one country but shared across multiple faiths within that country adds power to the argument that the social and political contexts of individual countries' service environments have the most influence on staff perceptions of the benefits of faith. Of course, this argument is complicated by the fact that culture influences religion and religion influences culture, a dynamic that makes it difficult to parse the individual influence of each. Regardless of the challenges faced in each unique country context, FBO staff of different religions perceive their faith orientation as giving them advantages that allow them to deal with those specific challenges. An interesting question for future research is to explore whether faith of any sort give organizations an advantage in service provision, or if the faithful interpret their environment, the challenges they face, and their strengths through the lens of faith? Future research examining the benefits religion on the outcomes generated by faith-based health and human service providers can help development professional better harness these benefits in an effort to improve service effectiveness.
APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW PROTOCOL
1) Please tell me a little about the founding of your organization.
2) How did you personally come to work for this organization?
3) What services does your organization provide?
B. Who generally benefits from these services?
C. How are clients selected?
D. Do any other organizations provide similar services in this community?
4) How does your organization's work impact your community?
5) What aspects of your work do you consider most important? Why?
6) Does your organization have partnerships with any other groups or organizations in the community?
a. Probe: Does your organization have any partnerships with government agencies? Political parties? Religious organizations?
7) I realize that your organization is a faith-based organization. Do you feel that your faith has an influence on the work your organization does? How?
B. Do you believe that your faith makes your work different than that of other organizations? How?
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SHAWN TERESA FLANIGAN
San Diego State University
(1) I was able to code for a total of 461 organizations included in USAID's 2005 VolAg report, which operate in more than 160 countries worldwide. A total of 124 organizations (26.9% of the sample) were coded as faith-based. The vast majority of these organizations (107, or 86.3% of faith-based organizations) were coded as Christian. Only nine
organizations registered with USAID were of a non-Christian religion: five Jewish, two Muslim, one Jain and one Hindu.
(2) In Bosnia and Herzegovina, staff members were interviewed from interfaith FBOs that intentionally brought together individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina's three primary faith groups. In Sri Lanka, staff of NGOs not affiliated with any specific faith tradition expressed that they would be uncomfortable if their organization were to be categorized as secular. Staff of these nondenominational faith-based NGOs instead insisted that they should be thought of as "spiritual", and expressed a strong commitment to the value faith brings to people's lives regardless of the particular faith individuals profess.
We as a faith-based organization are showing that we are not only working for the Catholics but also for the other groups, and I think this is something very special to show the people, that you don't only look at your own group but that you are trying to support people in need. Honestly I think that is one of the most important things we do here, just as important as the houses we rebuild or the aid we provide.
Sometimes there is prejudice about Muslims and if someone comes here for our help they might feel strange, but we just want to talk and explain. If anyone has any questions about Islam, we are open to talk about it, because this prejudice is something that is really a problem. You know, in the world generally people think bad about Islam because of all these terrorist attacks. But we just try to explain what are the rules of Islam, because of course every Muslim is not a good Muslim. We just want to show what things come from people, but don't come from Islam the religion. We have to make a difference between bad people who happen to be Muslims and what they to do, and what is Islam really.
I have heard for example Muslim parents in the area who say that they prefer to send their children to our organization because they sense that there is the fear of God. Now, it's not that we are doing anything to them, but this is the sense, it is an atmosphere. Nothing, no specific substance, but they have a sense that it is a church owned thing and they feel safe. They feel that there are at least general morals, fairness, so that makes it effective.
I think missionaries are often more culturally sensitive and effective than other, maybe secular aid agencies. A lot of aid agencies have a very rigid agenda, like with gender and development, they have decided they should have a certain kind of gender development program and they come in already believing there are clear right and wrong ways of doing things. So they leave little room for compromise. But missionaries are trained to be culturally sensitive. Missionaries use Christian teaching to examine both the local culture and the culture of the aid worker in ways that are critical of and affirming of both cultures. Then we leave room for the Holy Spirit to come in and find a balance between the two, a balance that works for the people we are here to help.
We respect and we accept all religions, all the teachings of the famous leaders who have been important to human beings. These teachings are common to all people. All the religious leaders have given good ideas to create a good society in the world, and we respect and follow all their concepts. First we go to the Buddhist temple and we talk to the monks and we get their advice, but if there are other religious leaders in the village then we also work with them to get their advice. If we organize some project in the village, we invite all the religious leaders to come. And in the north the Tamil and Muslim people live together, but there are not really any Sinhala people, there are not any Buddhist people there. But still, we work in the north with those people, and they accept us and love us.
Since most of the people who work here know that they are doing this for God, in this way I think it helps provide a safer environment for the children and maybe a more caring environment where they could enjoy love and security. Actually, we won't employ anybody here unless they come from a church with a recommendation from their pastor as a letter of reference. So that also helps keep track of people's past and gives you an idea of their backgrounds and if they have any serious problems in their past. So in this way I think since most of the people who work here come from a Christian background, that helps the organization make sure that the children are in safe hands.
Our staff members are explicitly Christian, and actually everyone has to write a story about their own faith commitment as part of the process of being hired. But we will accept people from any denomination, as long as they are Christian. Because we are Christians, we have a commitment to the vision of helping people, and that overarching commitment helps in dealing with internal power struggles. I think we have less problems because in the end we all agree on our faith.
Because of our religion there is trust among our group and our members and this gives us more power. We also have aligned goals, and we are very organized, which provides us power. We don't have lots of internal conflict within the organization, even though we have participation in decision making on all levels.
Now, there has been corruption all over, and I cannot say that because we are a faith-based organization we don't ever have corruption, but I do think there is more general accountability. Things are raised much quicker. I know cases at other NGOs where things are ignored or swept under the carpet. But at (our NGO) if someone finds out something inappropriate is going on the issue is raised and it is dealt with right away.
It is a very needs-based work that we do here. If someone comes in with a special need, let's say addiction, we don't just say, "Sorry, we cannot help you." Because we want to, as a Christian organization, we want to go beyond services, we want to help with the individual person's needs, of course within our limitations and our resources. It is a very needs-based service. Every family has its own needs ... For example for social work, approaching the person on the principles of Christian values I think is the basis of a lot of this. The social workers we have are committed Christians, so they depend on the Christian teaching. Now, they can be as categorical as non-Christians maybe, but the kindness that they show would be based on their Christian belief. Of course this has a very positive impact on the person receiving the aid.
I believe that religious NGOs have more benefits to give. I really believe that. Any organization that is a religious organization, in any religion, if someone who works there is really a person who believes in God in any way and is true to himself and what he believes, he must be a good person. So he must be more emotional, more empathic, because this is originally from religion.
In other organizations that are not religious, you can see that people just work for money, or just work for some name or some special position in society, but I think in the religious NGOs the person doesn't work for money. He works because he believes God wants him to work like that, to help other people. For example, I just want God to give me a reward, I don't need it from people, and I can work hard and give all my knowledge and all my energy to this job. In all religious organizations, I believe it is like this, because I met some people who are Christians and they work in some organizations and I think they are like that too.
In no way can we justify keeping these programs open, because we do not make money from these services. we are in debt, we are hardly paying the salaries of the workers. And all this is not justified, if you look at it financially. It is a big headache! You should not keep such an institution open. But it is our faith that pushes us to work, and to work with great joy. I mean, at no point do we complain about all the difficulties. Yes, there are difficulties, and we will try to do our best, but we also believe that God blesses what we do, blesses others who walk with you, and so that's what keeps us going. It is because of our faith that we go on doing this.
It's wonderful because (the local Catholic NGO) has some grassroots networks, and we couldn't reach those people without those grassroots networks. So that is a real benefit to being a Catholic organization and having a Catholic partner, because they have those parish structures that can reach out to communities that we might not be able to reach out to otherwise. This gives us an advantage over some other foreign organizations who maybe come in and don't have any natural partner to work with as soon as they arrive.
We are fortunate that we are able to raise money from people in (our home country), many of whom are Catholic. That's a benefit that we get from being a Catholic organization, and we try to use that money wisely. It's nice, it gives us a little more flexibility. For example, my salary is paid by (our NGO), so I don't have to go out and fundraise for my salary. I can spend more time on things like partnerships with the local Catholic organizations instead of working solely on, for example, a reconstruction project funded by the Dutch government. I can allocate my time in a much more flexible manner, and we can put more of our donor money into the direct implementation of projects. It's a nice situation. There are some organizations that ran their projects here on grant money only, and so when their grant money ran out, they had to close their doors.
Table 1 Sample by Type of NGO FBOs Secular NGOs Number of Percent Number of Percent participants of participants of sample sample Local NGOs 47 46.1 26 25.5 International NGOs 17 16.7 12 11.8 Table 2 Sample of FBOs by Faith Local NGOs International NGOs Number of Percent of Number of Percent of participants FBO participants FBO participants participants Buddhist 6 9.4 Christian 17 26.6 16 25.0 Druze 3 4.6 Interfaith 5 7.8 or spiritual Muslim 16 25.0 1 1.6 Table 3 Perceived Benefits Categorized by Country Bosnia and Lebanon Herzegovina % of % of FBO No. FBO staff No. staff in in BiH Lebanon Believe Faith Adds 13 68.4% 14 66.7% Value to Services ability to promote 9 50% reconciliation through service provision added credibility in the 12 57.1% community greater respect and cultural sensitivity greater safety for 9 42.9% service recipients less conflict and 14 66.7% greater trust among NGO staff less corruption/ more accountability more individualized 5 27.8% 9 42.9% and compassionate service provision more highly 6 33.3% 14 66.7% committed and motivated workers more effective service 3 16.7% provision due to church networks more secure funding/ 4 22.2% more flexible use of funding Sri Lanka % of FBO No. staff in Sri Lanka Believe Faith Adds 15 60% Value to Services ability to promote reconciliation through service provision added credibility in the community greater respect and 12 48% cultural sensitivity greater safety for service recipients less conflict and 4 16% greater trust among NGO staff less corruption/ more 8 32% accountability more individualized and compassionate service provision more highly committed and motivated workers more effective service 7 28% provision due to church networks more secure funding/ more flexible use of funding  = perceived benefits unique to a single country Table 4 Perceived Benefits Categorized by FBOs' Religious Tradition Buddhist Christian Druze % of % of Bud- Chris- % of No dhist No tian No Druze Believe Faith Adds Value to Services 6 100% 28 85% 0 0 Ability to promote reconciliation 3 9% added credibility in the community 9 27.3% greater respect/ cultural sensitivity 6 100% 4 12.1% greater safety for service recipients 9 27.3% less conflict/ greater trust among NGO staff 13 39.4% less corruption/ more accountability 4 66.7% 4 12.1% more individualized and compassionate service provision 13 39.4% more highly committed/ motivated workers 13 39.4% more effective service provision due to church networks 10 30.3% more secure & flexible funding 4 12.1% Muslim % of Mus- No lim Believe Faith Adds Value to Services 9 52.9% Ability to promote reconciliation 3 17.6% added credibility in the community 3 17.6% greater respect/ cultural sensitivity greater safety for service recipients less conflict/ greater trust among NGO staff 5 29.4% less corruption/ more accountability more individualized and compassionate service provision 2 11.8% more highly committed/ motivated workers 7 41.2% more effective service provision due to church networks more secure & flexible funding  = perceived benefits unique to a single faith tradition
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