Getting a Piece of the Pie: Federal Grants to Faith-Based
Social Service Organizations
Category: Public and Private Funding
Document Type: Report
The study by the independent, non-partisan Roundtable on Religion and
Social Welfare Policy also found that while the share of federal grant funding to
faith-based organizations remained steady, the dollar value awarded to them
"The Bush Administration has built a considerable management capacity to
reach deeply into and widely across the federal government in order to implement
the Faith-Based and Community Initiative as a presidential priority," said David J.
Wright, Project Director of the Roundtable. "This has translated to faith groups
receiving a significant share of federal social service grants, despite intensifying
competition as available dollars shrink."
The Roundtable study also found that the overall share of grants to
congregation-based organizations declined during the period, although there was
evidence that a few federal grant programs are increasing awards to such groups. A
goal of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative created by President George W.
Bush has been to expand partnerships with faith-based service providers, especially
those that are smaller, or congregation-based. As part of that effort, the White
House has held numerous grant training sessions around the country.
"Congregations are being recruited, but it takes time to get new players into
the game," said Lisa M. Montiel, the survey's principal researcher. "The federal
grant process can be daunting, even with the efforts that have been made to level
the playing field for such groups."
Because the study covers those grant programs operating since 2002,
Montiel noted, it excludes several newer programs which may fund smaller faithbased
providers, such as prisoner re-entry programs and those that mentor children
of inmates. In addition, the study looked at discretionary grants made directly by
federal agencies, and did not include funds channeled to faith-based groups through
federal block grants administered by state and local governments.
In order to gauge trends affecting federal funding of faith-based social
service providers, the study focused on the three years following the creation of the
President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. It included 99 federal programs
for which such groups were eligible, and for which consistent year-to-year data was
available. The study also used five specific criteria to identify grant recipients as
being faith-based, including evidence of an explicit religious affiliation, religious
references in mission statements, the presence of religious elements in the services
provided, and the overt use of religious symbols, words or slogans.
During the three years covered by the Roundtable study, the number of faith-based organizations receiving
direct federal grants rose each year, as did the number of grants they received, as shown below:
| ||Number of FBOs Receiving a Grant ||Number of Grants to Faith-based Organizations|
However, the study found that while the number of faith-based grants grew, the total dollar amount declined
from approximately $670 million in 2002, to $626 million in 2004. Despite the changes, FBOs continued to receive a
steady 17.8% of the total funds during 2002 and 2004, with a slight drop to 17.1% in 2003.
Highlights of the Roundtable's analysis of the 2002-2004 grants shows:
- The share of federal grant funding to FBOs shifted to favor larger organizations, with national
groups seeing an increase from 34.5% to 41.7% -- and international groups seeing an increase from
9% to 12%. By contrast, local and regional groups saw a decrease in their share of funding from
41.2% to 33.8% -- and the share to congregation-based providers dropped from 10.7% to 8.8%.
- Six federal agencies had net increases in funding to faith-based organizations. The biggest increase
in funding came from the Labor Department (+29%), followed by Commerce (+3.8%), the
Corporation for National and Community Service (+1.9%), Education (+1.7%), Health and Human
Services (+1.2%), and Justice (+1.0%). However, in the case of the Commerce Department, it
should be noted the agency made no such grants in 2002, and only one in both 2003 and 2004.
- Although three federal agencies -- Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and the Agency
for International Development -- had decreases in their share of funding to FBOs, they were among
the top four federal agencies in terms of having the highest percent of dollars going to such groups.
- Agencies providing the largest share of funding to congregation-based service providers were
Housing and Urban Development, and Education. Three agencies -- Justice, Health and Human
Services, and the Agency for International Development -- had increases in both their percentage of
awards and funding given to congregation-based organizations.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded nearly a quarter of its grant dollars to
faith-based organizations, with more of its grants going to larger FBOs. Although the dollar amount
of the funding declined, FBOs received about 15% of the grants in each of the years studied.
- Of the nine agencies in the study, the Department of Labor showed the most significant increase in
the share of funding awarded to faith-based service providers -- jumping from less than 1% in 2002
to 29.8% in 2004.
- Many of the programs that showed net decreases in funding to FBOs were for services that required
specialized medical or scientific expertise, making it likely that only a limited number of FBOs
would apply for such programs.
The Roundtable's analysis was conducted from January 2004 through January 2006 and involved a team of
The Roundtable is based at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the public policy research arm of the
State University of New York. It is supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which serves the public interest by
providing information, advancing policy solutions and supporting civic life. Based in Philadelphia, with an office in
Washington, D.C., the Trusts will invest $204 million in fiscal year 2006 to provide organizations and citizens with
fact-based research and practical solutions for challenging issues.
Publisher: The Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy
Publication Date: 02/14/2006