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Aerial view of residential neighborhood in the Autumn.
This article by Jeri Eckhart Queenan, Devin Murphy, and Peter Grunert of The Bridgespan Group originally appeared in the March 23, 2021 issue of the Insights newsletter from Lake Institute on Faith & Giving.

While their role in the social safety net is recognized by some funders, including government agencies, that perspective has not translated into funding from the largest institutional philanthropies. Among the 15 largest private foundations, faith-inspired human services nonprofits represent only 12 percent of safety net funding, much less than their 40 percent share of the sector.

Large institutional philanthropy’s discomfort with faith-inspired nonprofits is often grounded in the complicated historical relationship between faith traditions and many aspects of social justice. Though many faith traditions share a common concern with fighting poverty, some have also been a source of harm, trauma, and hardship. This complex history makes it hard for funders to discern which faith communities’ organizations are aligned with their equity values and impact objectives.

"We need to demystify faith-based organizations and close the funding gap, because they can be innovative, high-performing, and have a tremendous impact."

Amy Goldman, CEO, GHR Foundation

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