A study found that social projects targeting poor communities in Africa produce considerable impact.
Christian charity in the UK, Tearfund, released a report on March 26 measuring the monetary value equivalent to the positive effects that a local church can bring to its community. With impact and social specialists, State of Life, the study showed that with every £1 ($1.23) invested in church projects delivered £28 ($34.50) of social value, or a 28-fold return, reports Church Times.
Almost 8,000 respondents from Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Zimbabwe participated in the study.
We’ve shown that investing in churches is also an incredibly cost-effective way of helping people in lower-income countries. —Dr. Ruth Valerio, Tearfund’s director of advocacy
“Thanks to foodbanks and support programs, people have become increasingly aware of churches’ outsized contribution to our communities during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis,” said Dr. Ruth Valerio, Tearfund’s director of advocacy.
The report also showed that people who participated with Tearfund’s training programs were 51% more likely to have the same or higher income compared with the previous year, and 26% less likely to be hungry. People in church and community transformation (CCT) communities are willing to work on shared projects (113%) and more likely to be hopeful about the future (35%).
Tearfund’s programs aim to improve the individuals’ economic, personal, and social lives, as well as their spiritual well-being. Data from the study revealed that almost half (45%) of people were more likely to feel that people would be ready to help them when the need arises, and more than a quarter (26%) were less likely to have a family member miss school.
What’s notable is that the programs brought a lasting transformation in people’s overall wellbeing. The benefits are not just temporary, they are sustainable and affect many from the community and not just those who joined the activities.
A laborer from Rwanda and mother of four, Beatrice, was able to set up her own business through Tearfund. “I was invited to attend training in the church. I started thinking of having a plan for the development of my family,” she said. “It was hard, but I was encouraged by others.” She sells food in the market and is able to rent land to raise livestock. She now provides for her family instead of relying on other people for their basic needs. “We now have enough food to feed our children and pay school fees; I no longer work for others, because we have our own business.”
Valerio concluded that it is vital to include the church in programs aimed at helping people. “Now we’ve shown that investing in churches is also an incredibly cost-effective way of helping people in lower-income countries — all the more important, given squeezed aid budgets. This report proves what Tearfund has seen around the world for over 50 years: that the Church is a superhero.”