This paper is presented as part of the Papers Series for COMM-ORG: The On-line Conference on Community Organizing and Development.  It is reprinted with permission from Interfaith Funders. To cite, use: Warren, Mark R. and Richard L. Wood. 2001. Faith-Based Community Organizing: The State of the Field. Jericho, NY: Interfaith Funders.  Presented on COMM-ORG: The On-Line Conference on Community Organizing and Development.


A report of the findings of a national survey conducted by Interfaith Funders, Jericho, NY

Co-authored by Mark R. Warren and Richard L. Wood (1)

January 2001


Executive Summary
I  Introduction: The Democratic Promise
II The Research Design
III Overview of the Field
IV Engaging Religious Communities in Public Action
V Expanding the Base: The Participation of Non-congregational Institutions
VI Bringing New Constituencies into Participation and Fostering Interracial Cooperation
VII Promoting New Leadership
VIII Creating an Infrastructure of Organizers
IX Securing a Financial Base 
X Collaborative Work Beyond the Local Organization
XI FBCO's Experience with New Religious and Social Constituencies 
XII Areas of Engagement by FBCO 
XIII Strategic Self-Assessment 
XIV Conclusion: Toward a Continuing Democratic Conversation

About the Authors 
About Interfaith Funders
Appendix A: Questions for Further Research and Dialogue
Appendix B: Notes on Methodology
Appendix C: Questionnaire 
Figure 1


This report is the product of a collaborative research project sponsored by Interfaith Funders (IF). Though the final report and the interpretation of data are the responsibility of the primary authors, the project benefited substantially from the involvement of a diverse group of scholars, foundation staff, and other observers of the field of faith-based organizing. Though too numerous to name individually, we wish to acknowledge all those involved in this endeavor.  

A smaller group was central to the project in diverse ways. The Board of Directors of Interfaith Funders sponsored and made possible the collection of data from faith-based community organizations around the country. Jeannie Appleman coordinated the study on behalf of IF; Randall Keesler oversaw the project as chairperson of IF’s Research Project and field representative for Catholic Campaign for Human Development; Seth Borgos, now national staff for the National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support at the Center for Community Change, helped initiate the project as then-Chair of IF’s Grantmaking Committee; Stephen Hart advised IF on the development of the questionnaire and completed initial data preparation; Emily Rosenbaum undertook the clean-up and analysis of the quantitative data; and Mary Ann Flaherty carried out multiple administrative tasks, conducted many interviews, and edited the final report.

 Interviews of lead organizers were conducted by a variety of individuals: Interfaith Funders staff and board members, diocesan directors of CCHD, scholars, and others. We thank them all for their collaboration.

The following members of the IF Scholars Group discussed the faith-based community organizing data and helped shape the findings of the study: Janice Fine, Marshall Ganz, Rob Kleidman, Omar McRoberts, john powell, and Kathy Partridge, Chair of IF’s Grantmaking Committee and program officer at the Needmor Fund, as well as the authors. We would also like to thank the organizers of faith-based organizing projects around the country for their time answering our questions and offering their thoughts on the state of the field. 

The division of labor between the authors was as follows: Mark Warren coordinated the quantitative analysis and was the primary author of Sections I-IX. Richard Wood completed the qualitative data analysis and was the primary author of Sections X-XIV. We should be considered fully equal co-authors of the final report.

All the above individuals contributed significantly to the success of the project and to the findings reported here.