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Social Philanthropy and Church Mission

Congregations are feeling the pinch as member contributions decline with America's current depressed economic situation. However, needs are increasing for the same reason. According to the Rev. Joe Mann, former director of the Rural Church Division of The Duke Endowment, "in many rural communities, the church is about the only institution left," making it the center of moral and other support for entire communities. In turn, "churches have had to turn to foundations, individuals and even government for support, because the church tithe is not going to cut it." Mann's 20 year career at The Duke Endowment involved responding to grant applications. In an interview with Faith & Leadership, an online offering of Duke Divinity School, he offers some insight on the role of philanthropy in the local church, how it has changed, and what philanthropists look for in grant applications. A related article on Faith & Leadership explores the core roles of transparency and accountability. For more help on church finances during difficult economic times, see our articles, "Best Resources on Stewardship and Finance," and "Best Resources for Church Administration." Also explore a wide range of helpful links provided by searching the term church finances on our website. 

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