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Staff Perceptions of the Benefits of Religion in Health and Human Services Nonprofits: Evidence from International Development

Author: SHAWN TERESA FLANIGAN
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 32 No. 2

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.

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