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Exploring Religions Contribution to Social Service

Authored by: Lisa Dugan

Photography by: Candace diCarlo

Faculty & Research


The Program for Religion and Social Policy Research (PRSPR) is dedicated to understanding the nexus between organized religion and the provision of social services. The program aims to contribute new knowledge on the scope, nature, and practice methods of religious-based social services; develop methods for studying congregations and religious-based organizations.

Led by Ram Cnaan, PhD, PRSPR is currently involved in two projects that explore the integration of social work and religion. As part of an ongoing effort with the Partners for Sacred Places, PRSPR has developed a methodology to determine the monetary worth of a congregation’s work. The Program is currently testing this methodology in four cities among a random sample of 30-60 congregations per city in an effort to assess the total worth of congregational work within a given city.

PRSPR is also examining the intersection between religion and civic participation within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which has the highest civic participation among organized religions. Through extensive interviews with Church leadership and a comprehensive questionnaire about the extent, nature and origin of congregants’ civic participation, the study aims to identify the factors that galvanize LDS members to serve their communities.