Philanthropy’s role in policy and advocacy efforts are becoming increasingly crucial to efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Funders Together works with and on behalf of philanthropy to build relationships with government officials to educate and engage them on the importance of public-private partnerships and best practices that will move the needle on the homelessness crisis. Our work also centers on informing and educating our members on various local and national advocacy and policy opportunities and how philanthropy can engage.
Funders Together has seen an increase in desire for advocacy learning opportunities from our members and many have been taking steps to become more attentive to and focused on ways to be engaged in advocacy and policy. Members accessed the policy and advocacy resources we provided in 2018 more than any other year. And, in surveying our members, we have consistently heard that our advocacy and policy work has helped inform changes in how funders engage in advocacy and policy. In addition, partners have noted that philanthropy’s engagement in advocacy and policy have helped secure “wins” for housing and homelessness programs in the federal budget in 2018.
How We're Doing This
Advocacy on behalf of our members
After an initial meeting in 2017, CEO Amanda Andere met again with HUD Sec. Ben Carson in January 2018 at a philanthropy roundtable. Fifteen foundations, including three board members, were present. Before the Funders Forum in February, Funders Together and Los Angeles funders met with HUD officials for a listening session and shared what was working in the area and where there were opportunities for increasing public-private partnerships.
Funders Together has made efforts to engage HUD regularly by meeting with Jemine Bryon, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs to provide updates on philanthropy’s involvement in solutions around the country and pressing issues our members are focused on. When possible, Funders Together also attended, the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness national partners meetings, where they solicited input on items like their new strategic plan; Home, Together.
In addition, in the summer of 2018 Amanda Andere participated in a congressional panel with A Way Home America to provide updates on the state of homelessness, how philanthropy and federal partners can work together, and examples of public-private partnerships from across the country.
Panelists from the House Briefing on Youth Homelessness: @SimplyTwiggy of @TrueColorsFund Amanda Andere of @funderstogether @gdylanbrooks of @CompassCenter Natalie Garcia of @YouthActionHuB Lamont Green of @allhomekc @ashnichal & Sakura Raftery of @Goodwillnmi pic.twitter.com/Qpoowuoeib— A Way Home America (@awayhomeamerica) May 23, 2018
As part of ongoing efforts, Funders Together CEO, Amanda Andere, reached out to key members of Congress to communicate our values and support our partners’ policy platforms which proves to be increasing important. We also engaged our board in educational meetings with HUD political appointees, such as at our fall board meeting in October 2018.
In addition to working with the federal administration, Funders Together has closely partnered with our colleagues at the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Heartland Alliance, National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council to participate in national advocacy campaigns to protect the Affordable Care Act and increase federal funding for homelessness and affordable housing programs. Funders Together continues to be an active member of the A Way Home America policy committee and a part of the steering committee for The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding as well as participants at the National Homeless Advocacy policy meetings.
Members have expressed appreciation and value in our advocacy efforts, saying the following:
“We are so excited by the leadership you are providing to the funder community and the thoughtfulness you bring to your advocacy efforts. Thanks for being such great partners.” - Campion Advocacy Fund
Providing education and engagement opportunities around advocacy & policy
It is critical that funders understand how and when they can engage in advocacy and policy. We believe philanthropy has a role in this work and providing our members with timely and applicable opportunities, updates, and resources is an essential part of what Funders Together does. We work to solidify the message that philanthropy can be and is involved in advocacy around preventing and ending homelessness. Due to an increase in desire for knowledge around policy and advocacy, our policy focused resources and programming increased 41% to accommodate the desire to stay up to date on developments that affect the movement to end homelessness. Resources included:
- Policy Priorities for the Administration.
- Priorities for the New Congress and Administration Messaging Guide.
- 2020 Census Resource Page.
- Advocacy for Funders Resource page.
In addition, we created online programming focused on what role advocacy and policy plays in efforts to end homelessness and how philanthropy can engage:
- Policy Update: Using Our Voice in the New Year
- Voices of Youth Count
- Lessons Learned from Communities Ending Chronic and Veteran Homelessness
- Education and Homelessness - Working Together for Students Experiencing Homelessness Part 1
- Engaging Law Enforcement as a Key Partner in Ending Homelessness
We also provided eight blog posts which supplemented and complimented our advocacy resources and online programming. These blog posts included:
- Six Things To Know About Federal Policy In The New Year
- What Funders Are Saying About Racial Equity and Homelessness
- 2018 Funders Forum: Philanthropy’s Role in Ending Family and Youth Homelessness
- Ending Homelessness Through Public Will Building
- Five Takeaways from the Inaugural Foundations for Employment and Housing Meeting in Houston, TX
- 2018 Funders Institute: Reflections from the Day
- Take Action: How Funders Can Protect Immigrant Families from Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness
- Philanthropy is Key to Advocacy and Policy Wins in 2018, But More Work is Ahead
Keeping our members abreast of timely policy issues
As our members become increasingly interested in philanthropy’s role in advocacy and policy, Funders Together worked to provide updates on developments and opportunities to engage. One way this was accomplished was through our Advocacy and Policy Update e-blasts. These updates were pushed out as developments in policy arose that affected efforts to end homelessness at both the local and federal level, mainly focused on the federal budget, but also on proposed policy changes that pertain to homelessness, housing, and other intersecting issues such as healthcare and education. The updates also included ways that philanthropy can be involved in influencing policy within legal limitations, and because of this, we’ve heard from partners that philanthropy’s involvement and support had a positive influence on the federal budget over the past year.
We’ve shared updates on the federal budget and its implications on housing and homelessness programs, as well as calls to action around the 2020 Census’s citizenship question and the new proposed public charge rule. Because of these updates, members signed on to letters, submitted public comments, and made public statements opposing both the question and the public charge rule due to its harmful effects on individuals and families, putting them at risk of housing instability.
Advocacy and policy updates were also a main component at our two largest in-person annual events:
- 2018 Funders Forum. This one-day event, held prior to the National Conference on Ending Family and Youth Homelessness in Los Angeles, featured 2 advocacy and policy focused components including a philanthropy-led listening session with HUD officials and a group discussion around building public will with examples from the United Way of Los Angeles and the Denver Foundation.
2018 Funders Institute. The Funders Institute, held in conjunction with the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, once again followed an extended format, providing funder specific sessions throughout the week. In addition to the 1-day event on Monday, Funders Together hosted an advocacy and policy session for funders:
- Policy Updates and Advocacy Opportunities for Funders. This session featured national partners from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Funders for Civic Participation, National Alliance to End Homelessness, and National Low Income Housing Coalition who provided updates on upcoming policy concerns and advocacy opportunities, midterm elections, the 2020 Census, and what funders should be thinking about in the coming year. We also heard from Martha Toll, Butler Family Fund, who talked about what the Fund was doing around the 2020 Census and how she saw ways funders could engage. This session also featured a HUD update from Jemine Bryon, HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs.