Ram Cnaan

Ram Cnaan, MSW, PhD

  • Professor

  • Program Director, Program for Religion and Social Policy Research

  • Faculty Director, Goldring Reentry Initiative

3701 Locust Walk, Caster Building, Room D-20
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6214
  • office: 215.898.5523
  • fax: 215.573.2099

Link to Scholarly Papers

Dr. Cnaan is the Director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research and the Faculty Director of the Goldring Reentry Initiative.

  • Dr. Cnaan is a world-renowned expert in studying faith-based social services. He carried out the first national study on the role of local religious congregations in the provision of social services as well as the first one-city census of congregations.
  • Dr. Cnaan has published numerous articles in scientific journals on a variety of social issues. In addition, he serves on the editorial board of seven academic journals. He is the author of: The Newer Deal: Social Work and Religion in Partnership (Columbia University Press, 1999) and: The Invisible Caring Hand: American Congregations and the Provision of Welfare (New York University Press, 2002). His forthcoming book, The Other Philadelphia Story: How Local Congregations Support Quality of Life in Urban America (University of Pennsylvania Press) deals with congregations in one large city. In addition, along with Stephanie Boddie (Washington University), he edits Assessing the Impact of Faith-Based Social Services: Methodological Challenges and Practical Solutions (Haworth Press).

Research

Description: This is an exploratory study to provide empirical data documenting the scope and nature of social service delivery by local congregations. To date over 200 American congregations and 50 Canadian congregations have participated in the study. This research contributes to an area that has been largely neglected in the social work and social welfare literature. This research seeks to answer the following questions: 1) What is the role of American religious congregations is providing social services? 2) Is congregational social service delivery increasing in response to government cutbacks? 3) What is the financial value of the congregational social services?

Project Sponsors: 
The Kellogg Foundation
The Manhattan Institute
The Lilly Endowment
Partners for Sacred Places
The Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation
The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice

Dates: 1996-current

Project Staff: 
Ram A. Cnaan, Principal Investigator (cnaan@sp2.upenn.edu)
Femida Handy, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University
Stephanie Boddie
Gaynor Yancey

Research Sites:
Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, Mobile, and San Francisco Bay Area (San Francisco and Oakland)

Project Related Publications:
Jeavons, Thomas H. and Ram A. Cnaan. “The Formation, Transitions and Evolution of Small Religious Organizations (under review).

Cnaan, Ram A. and Robert J. Wineburg. “Social Work and the Role of the Religious Community in Social Service Provision” (under review).

Cnaan, R. A. with Wineburg, R. J. and Boddie, S.C.(In final preparation). The newer deal: Social work and religion in partnership. New York: Columbia Press.

Cnaan, R. A.(Forthcoming). Empowerment through organized religion. In: Wes Shera and Lillian Wells (Eds.). Empowerment in social work: Toward the 21st century. Columbia University Press: New York.

Cnaan, R. A. (1997). American organized religion and empowerment. In: Festschrift of Antonin Wagner (17-31). Zurich, Switzerland.

Cnaan, R. A. (1997). Social and community involvement of religious congregations housed in historic religious properties: Findings from a six-city study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work – Program for the Study of Organized religion and Social Work.

Cnaan, R. A. (1996) Social and community involvement of Philadelphia religious congregations housed in historic religious properties: Data analyses of mailed questionnaires. Report Submitted To: Historic Religious Properties Program of the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation.

Project Number: CNAA-96-01

Entry Date: September, 1998

Description: This is a three-year study in which a group of about 10 students who have identified themselves as interested in religion and are scheduled to have their field practice setting in a religious-based social service agency. We will work with three cohorts of students to distill and elicit practice knowledge that will serve social service administrators for the 21st century. At the end of each year we will publish a manual of elicited knowledge that is pertinent to the interface of religion and social service administration. In the following years we will test the accuracy and generalizability of information elicited the year before, and based on the new knowledge we will augment the guidebook. It is expected that after one year of working with students who are trained as social work administrators under religious auspices, we will need two years of testing and calibrating this manual. Finally, findings from the training will be disseminated to the overall initiative participants, practitioners, and educators in the next decade.

Project Sponsors: The Lilly Endowment

Dates: 1998-current

Project Staff: 
Ram A. Cnaan, Principal Investigator (cnaan@sp2.upenn.edu)
Rivka Danzig, Co-Investigator

Research Sites:
The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice

Project Related Publications:
Cnaan, R. A., & Yancey, G. I. (Forthcoming). Volunteerism and Organized Religion. In: Edward L. Queen, III (Ed.). Handbook on the management of faith-based service organizations. Jossey Bass: San Francisco.

Cnaan, R. A. The future of social work: Religious congregations, denominations, and social service provision. In: E. Gambrill and M. Reisch (Eds.), Social work in the 21st century, Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Grove, 1997, 271-284.

Jeavons, T. & Cnaan, R. A. (1997). The formation, transformation, and evolution of small religious organizations. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 26, S62-S84.

Cnaan, R. A., & Milofsky, C. (1997). Small religious nonprofits – a neglected topic. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 26, S3-S13.

Cnaan, R. A., Cascio, T., & Newman, E. Helping Jewish communal managers meet the challenge: An evaluation of a training program. Journal of Jewish Communal Service, 1996, 73 (1), 63-75.

Project Number: CNAA-98-01

Entry Date: September, 1998

Description: This research will identify the local religious congregations and the volunteer, financial, and other resources that are or can be used to provide social and community services in West Philadelphia. Of particular interest is how local congregations are using their resources to meet the increased demand for services as a result of changes in the welfare system.

Project Sponsors: The Kellogg Foundation

Dates: 1998-current

Project Staff: 
Ram A. Cnaan, Principal Investigator (cnaan@sp2.upenn.edu)

Research Sites:
The University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice

Project Related Publications:

Cnaan, R. A. with Wineburg, R. J. and Boddie, S.C.(In final preparation). The newer deal: Social work and religion in partnership. New York: Columbia Press.

Cnaan, R. A. (1997). Social and community involvement of religious Congregations housed in historic religious properties: Findings from a six-city study. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work — Program for the Study of Organized religion and Social Work.

Cnaan, R. A. Social and community involvement of Philadelphia religious congregations housed in historic religious properties: Data analyses of mailed questionnaires. Report Submitted To: Historic Religious Properties Program of the Philadelphia Historic Preservation Corporation, 1996.

Project Number: CNAA-98-02

Entry Date: September, 1998

Description: This research compares the public perception of volunteering from a cross-cultural perspective. It identifies the history and linguistic meaning of volunteering in several countries. A 50-item instrument based on previous work by McCurley and Vesuvio (1985) and Cnaan, Handy, and Wadsworth (1996) is being administered to test the concept of net cost as the key factor behind public perception of who is a volunteer. In each region/country over 500 individuals will be surveyed in order to obtain a large enough sample size to draw conclusions.

Project Sponsors: Independently conducted

Dates: 1998-current

Project Staff: 
Ram A. Cnaan (cnaan@sp2.upenn.edu)
Ugo Ascoli, University of Ancona, Italy
Jeffrey L. Brudney, University of Georgia
Femida Handy, York University
Lucas C. P. M. Meijs, Erasmus University, Netherlands
Shree Ranade, Marketing & Market Research Consultants, Puna, India

Research Sites:
Canada, India, Italy, the Netherlands, and the Southeast and Northeast regions of the United States

Project Related Publications:

Cnaan, R. A., Handy, F., & Wadsworth, M. Defining who is a volunteer: Conceptual and empirical considerations, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1996, 25 (3), 364-383.

Cnaan, R. A., & Amrofell, L. M. Mapping volunteer activity. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1995, 23 (4), 335-351.

Cnaan, R. A., & Metzendorf, D. Student volunteering: Should it be required in undergraduate introduction to social work courses? The Journal of Volunteer Administration, 1994, XIII (1), 1-11.

Cnaan, R. A., & Perlmutter, F. D. Challenging human service organizations to redefine volunteer roles. Administration in Social Work, 1993, 17 (4), 77-95.

Cnaan, R. A., & Cwikel, J. Elderly volunteers: Assessing their potential as an untapped resource. Journal of Aging and Social Policy, 1992, 4 (1-2), 125-147.

Metzendorf, D., & Cnaan, R. A. Volunteers in feminist organizations. Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 1992, 2 (3), 255-269.

Cnaan, R. A., & Goldberg-Glen, R. S. Measuring motivation to volunteer in human services. Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, 1991, 27 (3), 269-284.

Cnaan, R. A., & Goldberg-Glen, R. S. Comparison of volunteers in public and nonprofit human service agencies. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1990, 19 (4), 345-358.

Cnaan, R. A. The use of volunteers by governmental social services in Israel. Welfare and Society, 1990, 10 (4), 301-318 (Hebrew). Also in: Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 1990, 17 (3), 150-173.

Project Number: CNAA-98-03

Entry Date: September, 1998

Description: This research will assess from a cross-cultural perspective what social work students perceive to be key social issues before they begin their educational program and in the last semester of their course work. We are interested in the impact of social work education.

Project Sponsors: Independently conducted

Dates: 1998-current

Project Staff: 
Ram A. Cnaan, Principal Investigator (cnaan@sp2.upenn.edu)
Idit Weiss, Tel Aviv University
John Gal, Hebrew University

Research Sites:
United States, United Kingdom, France, and Israel

Project Related Publications:

Cnaan, Ram A., & Bergman, Shimon (1990). Construction of social problems by social work students. International Social Work, 33,157-174.

Cnaan, R. A. Teaching literature to highlight social policy issues. Journal of Social Work Education, 1989, 25 (3), 181-191.

Project Number: CNAA-98-04

Entry Date: September, 1998

Completed Projects

Description: A study of 510 consistent volunteers in Human Services Organizations (HSOs) and a comparison group of 504 individuals. The study measured: personal background variables, volunteer experience, motivation to volunteer (MTV), management of volunteers, and host of psychological and attitude scales. The aim of the study is to shed light on those who consistently (at least one hour every other week for six months or longer) assist HSOs in the provision of social services.

Project Sponsors: Indiana University Center on Philanthropy

Dates: 1989-1996

Project Staff: 
Ram A. Cnaan (cnaan@sp2.upenn.edu)
Robin Goldberg-Glen, Widener University

Research Sites:
Philadelphia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island

Project Related Publications:
Cnaan, R. A., & Cascio, T. Performance and Commitment: Issues in management of volunteers in human service organizations. Journal of Social Service research., forthcoming.

Cnaan, R. A., Handy, F., & Wadsworth, M. Defining who is a volunteer: Conceptual and empirical considerations, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1996, 25 (3), 364-383.

Cnaan, R. A., & Amrofell, L. M. Mapping volunteer activity. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1995, 23 (4), 335-351.

Cnaan, R. A., & Perlmutter, F. D. Challenging human service organizations to redefine volunteer roles. Administration in Social Work, 1993, 17 (4), 77-95.

Cnaan, R. A., Kasternakis, A., & Wineburg, R. J. Religious people, religious congregations, and volunteerism in human services: Is there a link? Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 1993, 22 (1), 33-51.

Cnaan, R. A., & Goldberg-Glen, R. S. Measuring motivation to volunteer in human services. Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, 1991, 27 (3), 269-284.

Goldberg-Glen, R. S., & Cnaan, R. A. Volunteers across the life cycle: Testing continuity, activity and disengagement theories (under review).

Cnaan, R. A. Teaching literature to highlight social policy issues. Journal of Social Work Education, 1989, 25 (3), 181-191.

Project Number: CNAA-98-05

Completed Books

Cnaan, R. A., with Boddie, S. C., Handy, F., Yancey, G., & Schneider, R. (2002). The invisible caring hand: American congregations and the provision of welfare. New York: New York University Press.

The Newer Deal: Social Work and Religion in Partnership 
Ram A. Cnaan with Robert J. Wineburg and Stephanie C. Boddie

“The Newer Deal is a brave book, arriving just in time for a society searching for new ways to organize its practices of compassion and care. Ram A. Cnaan presents both a provocative analysis of the past century’s estrangement of social work from religion and a bold proposal for a new, limited partnership between these two indispensable caring communities that suddenly face a very different America. This book provides surprising resources and sobering reality checks for policy makers, social workers, religious leaders, and all who strive for the common good.” -Rev. James P. Wind, PhD, president of the Alban Institute, Inc.

“This is an important book that will be of interest to anyone who is concerned with the dramatic social policy changes taking place in contemporary America. As the federal government transfers responsibility for the welfare of citizens to the states and to local communities, the role of religious-based agencies has again become increasingly important. Cnaan has made a major contribution in analyzing their role, as well as the ambivalent relationship between the social work profession and the religious community.”-F. M. Loewenberg, author of Religion and Social Work Practice in Contemporary American Society

As the federal system of entitlements and social services long provided by New Deal era programs is dismantled and shifted to the states, the religious community finds itself relied upon more than ever to assist with social services for the needy.

The Newer Deal calls upon religious-based organizations and the social workÐsocial service community to put aside their differences and forge a “limited partnership” to provide the social and welfare services that millions depend on. The proposed partnership focuses on joint care for those in need – with attention to services for people of color, gays and lesbians, women, and programs for community empowerment and economic development – while maintaining the values and other interests each partner traditionally holds.

The authors discuss different types of religious-based social services and draw on case examples and research findings to show how the religious community«s role in providing social services is stronger than ever. They examine the relationship between the religious and the social work and social service communities, as well as the issues that have divided the two, and explain the ways in which concern for the poor is integral to the major faith groups.

Contents

Part 1. The Challenge of Devolution and the Promise of Religious-Based Social Services: An Introduction

  1. The Ambivalent Coexistence of Social Work and Religious-Based Social Services
  2. What Do We Mean by “Religious-Based Social Services”?
  3. Religious-Based Social Services in Social Work Literature and Education
  4. Reasons for the Rift Between Social Work and Religious-Based Social Services

Part 2. Provision of Religious-Based Social Services: Theological Underpinnings, Historical Trends, and Current Findings

  1. Theological Teaching and Emphasis on Helping the Needy
  2. Religious Roots of America’s Social Services System
  3. Religion and the Quality of Life of Individuals
  4. Religion and Social Services Provision at the End of the Twentieth Century
  5. Empowerment and Organized Religion
  6. Religious-Based Social Services Provision: Findings from Local Studies–Greensboro
  7. Religious-Based Social Services Provision: Findings from Local Studies–Philadelphia

Part 3. The Challenge Ahead

  1. Political and Societal Trends in Social Services Provision
  2. Toward a Limited Partnership for a Newer Deal

About the Author

Dr. Ram Cnaan is an associate professor and the director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice. He received his doctorate from the School of Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, and his BSW and MSW from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel. Dr. Cnaan has published over two hundred articles in scientific journals on a variety of social issues. He is the author of: The Newer Deal: Social Work and Religion in Partnership (Columbia University Press) and works on a second book on the relevance of religion to social work: Congregations for Society. Dr. Cnaan teaches religion and social work, research methods, statistics, social policy, and policy issues as portrayed in literature. Dr. Cnaan also serves on the editorial board of seven academic journals.

Dr. Cnaan is the director of the Program for the Study of Organized Religion and Social Work. He conducted the first national study on the role of local religious congregations in the provision of social services and introduced an innovative new course on social work and religion. Currently, Dr. Cnaan is conducting the first ever census of congregation in one city, Philadelphia. He is also known as a national expert on nonprofit organizations and voluntary action with a specialty in the study of volunteerism. Previously, Dr. Cnaan researched and published in the areas of information technology in social work practice, mentally-ill among homeless persons, and practice evaluation.

Ordering Information

Columbia University Press 
562 W. 113th Street 
New York, New York 10025 
Telephone: 1-800-944-8648 
Fax: 1-800-944-1844 
email sw426@columbia.edu

ISBN: 0231116241
Published October, 1999
by Columbia University Press
cloth, 316 pages, $49.50

ISBN: 023111625X
Published October, 1999
by Columbia University Press
paper, 316 pages, $22.50

All proceeds go to Partners for Sacred Places, a national, non-profit, non-sectarian organization founded in 1989 to help embrace, care for and make good use of older and historic religious properties.