What Is A Faith-Based Nonprofit Organization?

Learn about what a faith-based nonprofit is and how these organizations impact the lives of the less fortunate in our communities.

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With so many organizations defining themselves as “faith-based” or “built on faith,” it’s easy to get lost in the labels. And usually, if you ask a faith-based organization what it means, you’ll most likely get different answers.

So, this article aims to provide you with a general overview of what a faith-based organization (FBO) is and, most importantly what being an FBO means to us here at Hands of The Carpenter.

General Definition of Faith-Based Organization (FBO)

A faith-based organization refers to charitable organizations or nonprofits affiliated with a religious group or inspired by religious beliefs. It is not a legal term.

To date, there are thousands of faith-based organizations in the U.S. with missions to provide charitable programs for low-income individuals, the poor, the disadvantaged, and the disenfranchised. FBOs differ from secular charities such as the Red Cross, United Way, Foundation Beyond Belief, and similar nonprofits.

Services Offered by FBOs

Communities across the U.S. benefit greatly from services provided by faith-based organizations. They provide much-needed services to the sick, poor, homeless, and elderly. In fact, if you’ve ever donated at a food pantry or volunteered in an after-school program, chances are that an FBO runs these programs.

Nonprofit FBOs are a vital part of any community. Because of their work on the ground, these organizations often have a better understanding of the needs of their locality, which allows them to deliver high-quality services, access unique resources, and, in some cases, to connect individuals with higher authorities. In the developing world, nonprofit FBOs provide valuable development-focused programs that provide relief to the poor, education to children, and medical assistance.

Funding for FBOs

Today, nonprofit FBOs can apply for government funding. Historically, this was not always the case. Faith-based organizations were prohibited from receiving state or federal funding due to the Constitutional requirement for a clear separation between church and state.

Over the years, as American communities realized the significant impact of FBO programming, a series of laws were implemented to ensure that funding could be provided by state and federal authorities. However, to uphold the separation of church and state, specific laws prohibit FBOs from accessing public funding for activities such as worship or evangelism programs which are defined as “inherently religious.”

How can you help an FBO?

Aside from government funding, most nonprofit FBOs rely greatly on donations and contributions from their donors and supporters to keep their programs running. Anything relevant that can be given by their local community is greatly appreciated by nonprofit FBOs. For example, if your chosen FBO runs a halfway house for abused women and children, they would generally be extremely grateful for donations of furniture, clothes, toiletries, and toys.

Offering your time and talents is also appreciated. Signing up to volunteer, mentor, or hold a livelihood workshop, for example, are great ways to contribute to your FBO of choice.

What Makes Hands of The Carpenter a Unique Nonprofit Faith-Based Organization?

Hands of The Carpenter (Hands) is a caring community of diverse individuals and organizations (Champions*) dedicated to working together to provide help and HOPE with and for single mothers in need striving for economic self-sufficiency. Hands is grateful and honored to be recognized as a vital community partner in the effort to address and remove barriers and obstacles such as unreliable transportation.

Hands strives to honor its roots. Before incorporating as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the work began as a Christian service ministry out of a church in Golden caring for women struggling to “make it” without the support of a spouse or other family.

Hands continues to operate as a faith-based organization that does not conduct any religious activities and serves women without expectation that they have a particular faith perspective.

“Faith-based” means different things to each person associated with the organization. Yet, we are unified in our commitment to engage in Hands’ vital work from our:

  • Response to a heartfelt personal calling to make a difference, especially by being of service to our sisters in need, which stems from a variety of motivations (faith, humanitarian, philanthropic, social justice, civic, etc.)
  • Faith and belief that single mothers who have struggled but want to succeed can do so, and fulfill their desire to make a better life for themselves and their families.
  • Recognition of the importance of individuals and organizations standing together to address personal and societal issues that are barriers to economic self-sufficiency.

In 2020, Hands was able to provide eligible candidates with 50 vehicle placements, 480 vehicle repairs, and 280 vehicle maintenance tasks. We hope to grow these numbers in the coming years.

*Hands Champions are all who engage in a variety of ways as staff, volunteers, financial supporters (cash & cars), and providers of in-kind services and supplies.

Interested in donating? You can find more information here.

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