Faith-based organizations (FBOs) have been active in the health sector for decades. Recently, the role of FBOs in global health has been of increased interest. However, little is known about the magnitude and trends in development assistance for health (DAH) channeled through these organizations.

Material and methods

Data were collected from the 21 most recent editions of the Report of Voluntary Agencies. These reports provide information on the revenue and expenditure of organizations. Project-level data were also collected and reviewed from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. More than 1,900 non-governmental organizations received funds from at least one of these three organizations. Background information on these organizations was examined by two independent reviewers to identify the amount of funding channeled through FBOs.


In 2013, total spending by the FBOs identified in the VolAg amounted to US$1.53 billion. In 1990, FBOs spent 34.1% of total DAH provided by private voluntary organizations reported in the VolAg. In 2013, FBOs expended 31.0%. Funds provided by the Global Fund to FBOs have grown since 2002, amounting to $80.9 million in 2011, or 16.7% of the Global Fund’s contributions to NGOs. In 2011, the Gates Foundation’s contributions to FBOs amounted to $7.1 million, or 1.1% of the total provided to NGOs.


Development assistance partners exhibit a range of preferences with respect to the amount of funds provided to FBOs. Overall, estimates show that FBOs have maintained a substantial and consistent share over time, in line with overall spending in global health on NGOs. These estimates provide the foundation for further research on the spending trends and effectiveness of FBOs in global health.


Haakenstad A, Johnson E, Graves C, Olivier J, Duff J, Dieleman JL. Estimating the development assistance for health provided to faith-based organizations, 1990–2013. PLOS One. 2015 June 4. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128389.