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Baylor > Social Work > Center for Family and Community Ministries > Relevant Knowledge > FASTEN  > Inter-Organizational Relationships

Inter-Organizational Relationships

Inter-Organizational Relationships for Congregations and FBOs

For the first time, there is substantive data about the similarities or differences among the relationships that congregations and FBOs enter into with other organizations. We describe these experiences according to three categories: collaborative, cooperative and coordinated relationships.

In turn, this information presented a number of benefits that can be realized through inter-organizational relationships information that can strengthen not only the organizations but the communities and clients they serve.

Previously much, if not most, of the information available to congregations and FBOs upon which to base their decisions about operation and operating procedures has been anecdotal. Most have learned by doing, while many others, isolated in their efforts, have expended valuable time and energy reinventing the wheel. This research provides significant, substantiated data to improve and strengthen these social services.


It is important to reiterate that a faith-based organization and a congregation are not the same a prevalent misconception held not only by some in both groups but more so in the perception of the public and of potential donors or granting foundations.

  • A Faith-Based Organization

  • A Congregation

This is important to distinguish for many reasons, and our research addresses this more specifically in regard to how faith practices impact such issues as hiring practices, common goals and objectives, and potential proselytization.

Although congregations and FBOs generally have partnerships of varying levels of formality, we have used the following three categories to define inter-organizational relationships:

  • Cooperative - an informal relationship with no commonly defined goals, objectives or planning efforts; program authority resides with each organization.

  • Coordinated - a formal relationship with compatible goals and objectives and some joint planning efforts; program authority resides with each organization.

  • Collaborative - a formal relationship with commitment to jointly established program goals, objectives, risks and benefits plus sharing of staff and other resources; mutual authority is shared among organizations.

Our findings about inter-organizational partnerships include the following:

Other quantitative and qualitative findings: