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Civil society partnerships

Potential roles of religious actors by type

  Actor  Description  Potential roles
 Faith-based NGOS
  • Faith-inspired NGOs inhabiting both the faith and secular development worlds, requiring them to work effectively in both domains.
  • Connected to faith constituencies, but can sometimes operate independently of faith hierarchies and exercise some autonomy and flexibility.
  • Some larger international FBOs maintain sophisticated bureaucracies with significant technical and management capacity.
  • Administer programs, including service delivery, advocacy and research/analysis.
  • Mobilize faith constituencies for volunteer, financial or advocacy support.
  • Facilitate greater linkages among local faith efforts and between local faith efforts and the broader development community, including knowledge exchange, partnership brokering, and resource mobilization.
  • Build capacity of local faith efforts.
 Faith-based networks and intermediaries
  • Operate nationally, regionally, or globally, and comprised of faith-inspired members, sometimes representing different faith traditions and diverse perspectives.
  • May represent large faith-inspired constituencies.
  • Mobilize and represent a collective moral voice; engage in advocacy.
  • Mobilize constituencies for volunteer, financial or advocacy support. 
  • Coordination and brokering among faith members and between members and the broader development community, including as a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, coordination and resource mobilization.
  • Provide member-support services (e.g. capacity building, technical assistance, standard setting).
 Faith-based service delivery infrastructure  
  • Includes ‘hard’ service-delivery infrastructure (e.g. schools, clinics, and hospitals).
  • Variable degree of alignment with national service delivery infrastructure.
  • May have a long history of local service provision, tradition of working with marginalized populations, and deep local knowledge.
  • Operate ‘on the front lines’ to provide direct services to local communities.
  • Influence behaviour through service delivery.
 International and national faith leaders
  • Often visible, well-respected public figures.
  • Opinion leaders with cultural and political influence, as well as thought leaders, who interpret faith text and spread ideas.
  • Influence can transcend faiths and geographical boundaries.
  • Moral voice and a platform they can use to influence and inspire their followers as well as others.
  • Can influence followers directly, or through local leaders via denominational hierarchies, where they exist.
  • Advocate with policymakers.
 Denominational hierarchies
  • Variation in degree of organization and centralization of authority across faiths.
  • Can be influential and political and cultural figures.
  • Guide, coordinate and support the work of their local faith communities.
  • Channel for communicating concerns rising from local faith leaders and laypersons upwards to national and international faith leadership.
  • Advocate with policymakers.
 Local congregations and houses of worship  
  • Congregations and their leaders have deep community roots and serve as regular gathering places for congregants.
  • Local faith leaders are often trusted community figures and can sometimes influence national policies.
  • Local religious leaders can be effective change agents, mobilizing congregations by influencing attitudes and behaviors and inspiring action, and engaging in advocacy.
  • Congregational members can be mobilized locally or across borders to donate, volunteer, advocate, or monitor their communities.
  • Houses of worship can serve as the infrastructure for gathering people or as a distribution channel.

Source: Excerpted from Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, 2010



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