How Faith-based Organizations Work

Helping Faith-based Organizations

Helping faith-based organizations includes everything from donating clothes and furniture to the Salvation Army to volunteering at Theodora House, a halfway house in Indianapolis for women transitioning from prison back into the community [source: Volunteers of America].

Most faith-based charitable organizations are nonprofits that rely on donations and volunteers, in addition to public funding, to survive. Choosing which faith-based organization to help typically depends on what your religious beliefs. However, you can provide assistance to a faith-based organization that isn't of your same faith but that supports social issues that interest you.

Shalom Denver, a division of Jewish Family Service of Colorado, helps welfare recipients reenter the workforce through job training and counseling [source: Kirsh]. Christian Service Mission provides case management for noncustodial parents in child support cases and runs shelters for battered women and children as well as the homeless [source: Christian Service Mission].

Volunteers of America, which serves 2 million people in 44 states, operates adult residential treatment programs as well as programs for troubled youth, people with disabilities and senior citizens [source: Volunteers of America]. Lutheran Social Services, founded in 1881, runs foster care programs and provides adoption services [source: Lutheran Social Services].

Most of these organizations have training programs for volunteers. You can find details of how to get involved on their Web sites. How evangelical they are while administering social services vary from charity to charity. One faith-based after-school program for kids uses Bible stories in its reading comprehension tutoring. Another requires its substance abuse patients to attend chapel.

Others, however, have a historical basis in religion but don't necessarily preach the gospel while providing food, shelter and other services to the disadvantaged.

For more on volunteering and faith-based organizations, see the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Christian Science Mission. "Who Are We?" (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • De Vita, Carol; Finegold, Kenneth; Kramer, Fredrica and Wherry, Laura. "Federal Policy on the Ground: Faith-Based Organizations Delivering Local Services." Urban Institute. 7/28/05. (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • Kirsh, Jonathan. "Shalom Denver: Stories of Success." (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • Lutheran Social Services. "About Us." (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • National Service Resources. "Contributions of Faith-Based Organizations." (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • Salmon, Jacqueline. "Government Cutbacks Leave Faith-Based Services Hurting." The Washington Post. 2/20/09. (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • Salvation Army. "History." (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • Volunteers of America. "About Us." (Accessed 5/15/09)
  • Volunteers of America. "Theodora House." (Accessed 5/15/09)