Handle with care: engaging with faith-based organisations in development

Religious faith has always had an intense but uneasy relationship with development. Donors are currently seeking greater engagement with faith-based organisations (FBOs). This positive shift needs careful consideration. Faith can be a powerful – but flammable – fuel for change. FBOs are highly diverse and complex. Donors therefore need to handle them with understanding and care. This article outlines both the major concerns about faith in development and also the potential ‘value-added’ of FBOs. It charts growing interest yet residual ambivalence on the part of donors towards faith in development. It presents the practical challenges and suggests ways forward for both donors and FBOs.