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“Faith and charity have long gone hand in hand. The origins of early charitable activity in Great Britain are closely tied with religion and faith. Many of today’s significant charities and funders … were founded in a strong tradition of faith. NPC’s first piece of research on faith-based charities in 2014 — Questions of Faith — found that nearly one in five charities in England and Wales was faith-based. From international development to homelessness, faith-based charities operate throughout the charitable sector.” 

New Philanthropy Capital – What a Difference a Faith Makes, November 2016 


For over a decade, Faith Action Audits (FAAs) have been delivered by Saltbox since 2006 as a means to highlight the community contribution of faith groups locally and nationally to measure how much the faith community is contributing to the lives of local people across Britain.

In 2006, we conducted our first FAA in Stoke-on-Trent. From 150 faith groups in the area, we received a 63% response rate. The results revealed that at that time there were: 

  • 300+ community initiatives
  • 13,000+ users engaging weekly
  • 2,000+ weekly volunteers
  • 5,000+ weekly volunteer hrs
  • £1.5M+ volunteers contribution p/a @ min wage

The audit kick started a culture of sharing good practice among faith groups, and has helped them to explore more ways of providing support, training and opportunities to the local community. Statutory and other partners also began to see the value and extent of faith-based work, stimulating more partnership engagement, especially in the Local Area Agreement.

Since then, Saltbox has pioneered the use of Faith Action Audits further afield. In 2008, of the roughly 50% that responded to the questions, our audit of the Staffordshire County Council District discovered: 

  • 1,100+ community initiatives
  • 51,000+ users engaging weekly
  • 4,800+ weekly volunteers
  • 10,500+ weekly volunteer hrs
  • £3M+ £volunteers contribution p/a @ min wage

Working with the averages and extrapolating to include all of the faith groups (those who responded and not) we can say that by 2010, faith groups were contributing well over £10 MILLION in volunteer hours to local communities across Staffordshire each year.

Since 2015 we have supported The Cinnamon Network in carrying their UK-wide Faith Action Audits. Their 2017 Report reveals that:

“There are around 60,000 faith groups in the UK. If only 46% of them (the same percentage that completed our survey) delivered what the Cinnamon Faith Action Audits’ average group did, this would mean that together the faith sector annually contribute: 

  • 210,000 social action projects
  • Support for 47 million beneficiary interactions
  • 117,000 paid staff activities
  • 1.8 million volunteer roles
  • 75 million paid staff hours
  • 280 million volunteer hours
  • £3 billion of support (paid staff hours, plus volunteer hours calculated using the living wage of £7.85, plus management)

These figures only count the time that staff and volunteers directly give in the preparation and delivery of social action projects. If the knock-on benefits of all the combined social action projects were added (for example the savings to local authorities, or reduction in benefits claimants as a result of the work of faith groups) then this financial contribution would be considerably larger. Similarly, these figures do not include all the physical resources, such as the cost of buildings and equipment provided in the delivery of social action projects by local churches and other faith groups. 


A decade after the first one, we performed another FAA locally in Stoke with partners audit partners including the Lichfield Church of England Diocese, Staffs Consortium of Infrastructure Organisations, Staffs County Council, Staffs Fire & Rescue and West Midlands Faiths Forum.

Each group was asked what community activities they run and how often, how many people benefit from them, the number of employees and volunteers and the hours they put into the project. The response rate of just under 50% provided a good starting point for extrapolating data to give an accurate picture of what faith groups are doing for the communities of Stoke-on-Trent.

The results are in! 


159 faith groups

  • 130 churches
  • 19 mosques, madrasas and Islamic centres
  • 2 Sikh gurdwaras
  • various others

500 community projects benefitting 14,000 people every week

  • working with young families to give children the best start 20%
  • helping older people live active, fulfilled lives 16%
  • reducing social isolation 16%
  • community cohesion and safer communities
  • working with families and young people
  • supporting refugees and asylum seekers
  • helping people with addiction
  • employability skills and financial crisis support

150 employees and 3,000 volunteers contribute a staggering £2.4 million per year to Stoke-on-Trent communities based on the National Living Wage (£7.20 per hour at the time). This figure does not include the work being done by faith-based organisations such as Saltbox, YMCA North StaffsRuff & RubyCross Rhythms and others working across Stoke-on-Trent. This work creates savings for the NHS, police and local authorities on account of the projects being run across the city. 

For further information on the Stoke-on-Trent Faith Action Audit 2016, or to discuss implementing one in your areas, please contact Tim Lucas, Church Liaison Officer at Saltbox on 01782 207 200 or email 

If you are interested in carrying out your own audit, FaithAction have produced a simple framework for inputting your information.

Cinnamon Network also offers professional services to help you conduct your own audit. Find details on their website here.  


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