Can This Faith-Based Nonprofit in Virginia Help Lower Divorce Rates in America?

Communio founder and president John Paul De Gance talks big data with a group. | Facebook/Communio

A faith-based nonprofit in Virginia that uses data tools to help churches build more effective relationship ministries could have already helped drive down divorce rates in Florida’s most populous city.

A new Institute for Family Studies report highlights a three-year community transformation campaign in Florida’s Duval County by the nonprofit Communio from 2016 to 2018 to strengthen marriages. Communio’s efforts, which included sponsoring marriage and relationship education programs, public events, and a sustained public campaign in support of healthier relationships, coincided with a 24 percent decline in the city’s divorce rate.

The campaign by Communio, which was known as the Culture of Freedom Initiative, reached more than 11,000 adults per year from 2016-2018, for approximately 50,000 adults in the three-year period. Communio and its partners also sponsored more than 28 million digital impressions, advertising its services and programs, and promoting a marriage friendly message in Duval County over the period on a budget of $1.75 million.

Divorce rate decline in Duval County was shown to have outpaced the divorce rate decline in the United States over the same period of Communio’s effort. In Duval County, divorce fell about 21 percent more than it did in comparable counties across the country, the report added.

While the evidence does not definitively attribute the divorce rate decline in Duval County to Communio’s efforts alone, the IFS report suggests that it might have been a factor.

“This report from the Institute for Family Studies suggests that the answer could be yes. We cannot answer the question definitively, as there may have been other factors driving divorce down in Duval County that we were not able to measure. What we can say is that the increase in family stability in Jacksonville during the years of the Culture of Freedom Initiative was larger than the increase in family stability witnessed in the vast majority of other large, comparable counties across the U.S.,” the report said.

“The distinctive contribution of COFI in Jacksonville seems to have been its combination of micro-targeted digital marketing with a broad network of religious congregations committed to strengthening marriage.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair