The Management of
Faith-Based Service Providers
AS WE HAVE SEEN, CHARITABLE CHOICE LEGISLATION WAS AN INVITATION TO religious organizations—especially smaller, grassroots organiza- tions—to work with government by contracting with state agen- cies to deliver social services to the poor. The invitation was ex- pressly intended to attract participation by faith-based organiza- tions (FBOs) that had not previously worked with government. Proponents saw these organizations as an “untapped resource,” while opponents pointed to the transaction costs associated with such contracts and warned that small nonprofit organizations would not have the management depth to comply with govern- ment reporting requirements or to maintain state-mandated fiscal controls. This, of course, raised preliminary questions: What are the management capacities of FBOs? What are the management practices of religious service providers, and do the capacities of congregations and faith-based 501(c)(3) affiliates differ? A number of nonprofit scholars have investigated these issues, and many of their findings have been summarized in subsequent publications, primarily a special issue of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quar- terly (Milofsky and Cnaan 1997) and a largely theoretical book of readings by Demerath and his colleagues (1998). Articles aimed at practitioners have also appeared (Brinckerhoff 1999; Queen 2000).
Obviously, the management capacities of FBOs are critical to the success of faith-based initiatives. Determining what those capaci-