Onions, tears and FBOs

In my career coaching it is not unusual to be asked: “I am not a believer. Would I be welcome in a faith-based organisation?”.

Given that there are thousands of faith based organisations across the globe, it’s a question that is well suited to a broad “classifying” answer and some encouragement for the client to do some more research.

A helpful way of classifying FBOs, as they are known, was developed by Sider and Unruh back in 2004. Think of an onion with just a central core and four “wrap around skins”. The central core represents the faith-permeated type of FBO. Every aspect of their work, in operations, fund raising and back office is steeped in their faith. Faith permeates, seeps through, all their conversations and strategies. The outer skin of the onion you now have in your mind represents faith-secular partnerships. These are FBOs that have a history of successfully partnering with purely secular organisations perhaps from the private sector or government. Just under the outer skin you will find FBOs that are faith backgrounded, slightly nearer the core are faith affiliated FBOs and one step away from the core are faith centred organisations.

Doing some research that helps you place your target FBO at one of these skin levels in the onion is a really great way of thinking about how you might fit in. Just don’t rub your eyes as you peel the onion!