Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Magnus Mfoafo-M'Carthy

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor

Second Advisor

Bree Akesson

Advisor Role

Committee Member

Third Advisor

Anh Ngo

Advisor Role

Committee Member


Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have grown in their importance in the international development field over the past 30 years. As a result of their rapid expansion and growth in influence, questions about their accountability, including their accountability to their service users, are being raised by key stakeholders (donors, NGO staff, and the service users themselves). Faith-based organizations (FBOs) are an increasingly important sub-group of NGOs, yet few studies exist which examine the accountability of FBOs to their service users. This study aims to help fill the gap in the literature by exploring the perspectives and experiences of FBO service users in Ghana. Data for this study was obtained through individual interviews and focus groups with a total of 24 participants from four FBOs in Ghana. Field observations and conversations with staff complemented the interviews and focus groups. Using qualitative description with overtones of constructivist grounded theory within a framework of Critical Theory, the findings were analyzed, revealing six themes: appreciating what the FBO offers; being limited; dealing with challenges; wanting to learn more; accessing services; and, experiencing success. The results of this study show that the four FBOs are responding to some of the needs of their service users but there is a lack of “downward” accountability, that is, the service users are not able to hold the FBO accountable for their actions. A question that arises from this study is whether FBOs can be both partially downward accountable and still beneficial to the local community. Further study is encouraged to explore the links between downward accountability in FBOs and the experience of service users.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Social Work Commons