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Innovation essential for social impact in faith-based charity sector says think tank

Innovation essential for social impact in faith-based charity sector says think tank

An increasing number of faith-based organisations in the UK are adopting ‘socially innovative’ strategies in delivering charitable work, according to a new report from Theos, the religion and social affairs think tank.

Doing Good Better: The Case for Faith-based Social Innovation profiles religious organisations across the country that are carrying out projects it considers are not normally associated with church-led charity. These include community refugee support schemes, affordable loans services, and providing early intervention family therapy.

The report says that despite fewer resources, faith-driven innovation is showing how to tackle social problems at their root with religious groups the fastest growing in the UK charity sector, conducting more charitable work than ever before.

However, the report also says that despite this growth, many religious organisations are still adopting old methods of planning and delivering charitable projects. It suggests that some of these organisations may lack the knowledge and resources necessary to help vulnerable sections of society facing complex, multi-layered challenges, such as refugees and migrants, individuals with mental illnesses, or those caught up in difficult financial situations.

The report lays out recommendations for faith-based enterprises wishing to innovate the services they offer. These include building better relationships with social investors, working harder to measure the outcome of projects, and ways to help innovative individuals collaborate with religious organisations and institutions.

The report argues that implementing such measures could drastically transform the way faith-based charities ‘do good’ for more people, regardless of religion, in the future.

Paul Bickley, head of Theos’s political programme and author of the report said:

“Even at a time when fewer people ‘believe’, faith groups are an important part of the social fabric of the nation. To their credit they’re ever more focused on doing more for the vulnerable groups, and they have a significant impact on many people’s lives.

“It’s likely, though, that they’ll have to do even more in the future as government budgets are cut. That means they’ll have to change the way they approach social action, making sure they’re tackling the problems at their root and in the most effective way. Religious groups will need more and different kinds of funding to do their work in future.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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