Charitable Choice


Since 1996, Sherman and her research team have been on the front lines of research on the implementation of Charitable Choice nationwide. Several resources from this research are available:

The Fruitful Collaborations survey report: This 2003 project surveyed nearly 400 leaders from faith-based organizations (FBOs) holding government contracts for social service programs indicates that 92 percent of faith-based contractors providing social services with public funds are satisfied in their relationship with government. This is the first study of its kind to document how charitable choice—the new federal guidelines regulating public funding of faith-based organizations—is actually working.

The study, conducted jointly by our Faith in Communities project and the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron, found that over half of the groups receiving public funding were new to government contracting, having only begun such collaboration since charitable choice was adopted by Congress in 1996. A surprising 42 percent of the contractors were Evangelical, and minority churches were more active than white churches in contracting.

Clearly, charitable choice is broadening the social safety net and allowing people in need--who are often people of faith--more choices. The survey indicates that FBOs employ multiple, deliberate strategies for safeguarding clients' civil rights and navigating charitable choice's restriction on using public dollars for inherently religious program components. 83 percent of the FBOs highly value charitable choice's guarantee that clients enter an alternative program if they are uninterested in receiving services from a faith-based program. Only nine percent of the contractors reported that any clients left their programs for a secular alternative.

Click here for the full survey report

Click here for the Executive Summary

15 State Study of Charitable Choice Implementation: The Collaborations Catalogue offers the most comprehensive examination of government contracting with faith-based organizations (FBOs) under Charitable Choice yet available. It builds upon and expands an earlier Charitable Choice tracking study of implementation in nine states. The Catalogue surveys activities in 15 states (Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin) and reports on hundreds of examples of financial collaboration. It includes information on the types of social services government agencies are purchasing from faith-based providers; how different states have reached out to the faith community to solicit their participation in assisting low-income families; which states are the most active in government-faith collaboration; and the kinds of FBOs that are choosing to compete for public funding.

To read the full Collaborations Catalogue, use the drop down menu below to view each state report. For the Executive Summary of the report, click here.

    Choose a state to download a PDF  

Download Adobe Acrobat Here

Among the report’s key findings: State and local governments are increasingly turning to the faith community for support in serving low-income families; frequently contracts are being written with "new players;" FBOs that do not have a longstanding history of receiving government funds; government agencies have greatly expanded the range of social services they are purchasing from FBOs; and more contracts are being written with individual congregations, and not only faith-based nonprofit organizations, than ever before.

The Charitable Choice Handbook for Ministry Leaders: This guide covers all the basics: what CC is (and isn't); what your ministry needs to know about it; how to assess whether government funding is for you; and how to navigate the relationship with government should you decide to pursue funding. The Handbook's advice is based on both Dr. Sherman's personal experience as the former director of a church-based urban ministry and her national research on the implementation of Charitable Choice. It includes answers to frequently asked questions; a copy of the Code of Conduct for Faith-Based Organizations receiving government funding; and a resource appendix.

Dr. Sherman’s Congressional Testimony on “State and Local Implementation of Existing Charitable Choice Programs,” Subcommittee on the Constitution, U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on the Judiciary, April 24, 2001.

Dr. Sherman’s article, “Navigating Charitable Choice,” from the June 9, 2000 issue of The Christian Century.

Dr. Sherman’s speeches on charitable choice.

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