Role of State Faith Community Liaisons in Charitable Choice Implementation. Mission of the FCL Function


For virtually all the entities where the FCLs resided, the language defining their formal missions reflected a generally inclusive approach toward FBOs and CBOs, a strong focus on capacity building, and development of collaborations and partnerships (See Table III.2).

The sites missions emphasized the role of faith-based and community organizations, grassroots groups, and/or nonprofit organizations. In three sites (the District of Columbia, New Jersey, and Texas), the missions suggest the possibility of partnerships with for-profit organizations or corporations. With varying levels of emphasis, nearly all (seven of the eight) indicated that a key goal of the FCL or FBCI is to help build the capacity of the sector through means such as training and technical assistance, acting as a conduit for information, and funding assistance. Establishing and maintaining partnerships and collaborations between government and private organizations were also cited as key goals in six sites. Principles of outreach to, and inclusion of, FBOs were highlighted in several mission statements, although none explicitly cited Charitable Choice. The mission of the OneStar Foundation in Texas was also noteworthy for explicitly citing the offices work in research and evaluation.

The reasons for the FCLs frequently inclusive approach to both faith-based and community-based organizations, as reflected in their missions, appeared to differ. In Texas, the OneStar Foundation president suggested that this was in part a strategic decision made after several years of the states initial strong emphasis on the faith-based sector. By taking an inclusive approach  bringing FBOs, CBOs, and larger nonprofits together for capacity building and other events  OneStar hoped to facilitate a greater sense of commonality and collaboration among these organizations, allowing them to learn each others language and practices, rather than segregating the faith-based community over the long term. Nonetheless, OneStars president stressed the importance of continuing to reach out to communities of faith.

The inclusive approach of New Jerseys Office of Faith Based Initiatives seemed to reflect both the legal constraints in the state noted earlier and, according to several respondents, the prevailing political culture. In Alabama and Virginia, some activities, such as outreach, were focused in particular on FBOs, but others, such as capacity building, addressed issues common across the FBCO sector. Most of the FCLs suggested that it was necessary to strengthen the capacity of both FBOs and CBOs if they were to be capable of meeting the demands of public contracts or grants and of providing better social services.

FCLs and their staffs identified a number of specific roles and duties for the office. These included:

  • Providing FBCOs with information on public and private funding opportunities
  • Conducting broad outreach at community and issue-specific events
  • Acting as an informal ombudsman or advocate for FBCOs collaborating with state, local, or private agencies
  • Facilitating unfunded collaboration opportunities
  • Offering technical assistance tailored to individual FBCOs
  • Working with the governors office, the legislature, and/or advisory boards to advance the initiatives
  • Serving as issue experts for public agencies and potential private partners
  • Acting as a liaison to the FBCI at the federal level (the White House office and federal agency centers).

FCLs also answered a wide range of questions about the FBCI and the offices work and generally helped to translate government language and policy for FBCOs. The OFBCIs in several sites also focused on managing AmeriCorps and other programs funded by federal funding streams.

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