This report examines how faith organisations are responding to social need in innovative ways, and asks what can be learnt from them.
Faith-Based Social Innovation
2nd February 2017
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Churches and faith-based organisations are at the heart of responding to pressing welfare problems. We already know that they contribute significantly to the common good. Our survey for the Church Urban Fund found that up to 10 million people in England say that they or a member of their family have used church or church-based community activities within the last 12 months.
However, changes in social, political and economic conditions – not least the on-going pressures and reductions on statutory budgets – mean that churches and faith-based organisations need to do more to meet greater social needs.
This poses questions around the way they think and operate. Across history, religious traditions were dynamic forces for social change – in other words, they were sources of ‘social innovation’, helping to respond creatively to pressing or emerging social challenges. Today, the idea of social innovation commands significant attention, but there is little understanding of the potential of faith-based organisations to be sources of such social innovation.
In this project, we aim to explore the concept of social innovation, what role religious groups and traditions may play, what influences a capacity to innovate, and how churches and other faith-based organisations can have a deeper or greater impact. We will publish our findings in mid-2017.