The past year has presented great opportunities and challenges for both philanthropy and the work to prevent and end homelessness. Funders Together Board Chair, Bill Pitkin of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, reflects on 2016 and where we are heading as we look to 2017 and beyond.
Every new year brings both hope and uncertainty and 2016 was no different. It was a year of transition, change, unity, and clarity for Funders Together to End Homelessness, philanthropy, and the movement to prevent and end homelessness. In a time of uncertainty in our country and in our field, we have been proud to witness a surge of passion and tireless dedication pour out from all those involved in efforts to prevent and end homelessness throughout the country. In particular, our members answered the call, came together, listened, and led when it was needed most.
These twelve months will conclude with many highlights:
- In February, after an extensive search, we welcomed our new CEO of Funders Together, Amanda Andere. Under her direction, we’ve explored ways to be a more effective organization by diving deeper into advocacy efforts, building partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels, and exploring the intersectionality of homelessness and other issues.
- Board and staff engaged in thorough strategic planning, setting goals around the organization’s mission to advance philanthropy’s role in preventing and ending homelessness, with an added focus on addressing racial inequities. We will be sharing the priorities in this three-year plan over the coming months.
- After the coordinated media effort on homelessness in San Francisco this summer, Funders Together highlighted the importance of philanthropy’s voice and role in ending homelessness in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
- We welcomed Alicia Lara, Senior Vice President of Impact for United Way Worldwide, as our newest Funders Together Board member.
- We hosted our 4th annual Funders Institute in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, bringing over 60 attendees together to discuss philanthropy’s role in the upcoming Administration transition and the connection between racial inequities in homelessness.
- Our first community of practice, Foundations for Youth Success (FYS) concluded with a two day in-person meeting in Seattle, which spurred ideas for continued learnings, resources, and a Youth Network, coming in 2017.
- We outlined our policy priorities for the incoming Administration and will continue to work towards lifting up philanthropy’s voice during the Presidential Administration transition as well as provide opportunities for member input and involvement.
- We convened United Ways and explored their unique roles in the work to end homelessness in their communities and strengthen our relationship with United Way Worldwide. Moving forward we hope to work together to provide more learning and networking opportunities for United Way members.
- After hearing from our members regarding topics within homelessness we should explore, we’ve been providing learning opportunities around economic security. In 2017, we look forward to launching our next Community of Practice, which will be focused on employment.
- Following the election, we hosted call to hear from members about their thoughts, feelings, and hopes for philanthropy's role during and after this transition, as well as where Funders Together should be focusing our efforts to be supporting philanthropy and the work to prevent and end homelessness.
This year, board members have been thrilled to personally reach out to FTEH members and have conversations about the needs and priorities that funders have going into the new year. The insights we have gleaned from these conversations have already informed our strategic plan for the next three years. In order to support your efforts to prevent and end homelessness, we thank you for investing in FTEH as a dues paying member in 2017. Your support will not only continue your access to FTEH’s exclusive member benefits, but will also ensure that funders have a voice at the national level to advocate and influence policy, opportunities to learn from and network with their peers, and dive deep on key issues facing you today, such as employment, youth homelessness, and equity.
Last, but certainly not least, this year two inspirational founding board members transitioned off of the Funders Together board: Sonya Campion and Tom Nurmi. Their dedication to the board, this organization, and movement as a whole cannot be overstated. We are grateful for the insights and leadership they provided over their years of service.
As we embark on a new year, we want to thank you for your continued support of Funders Together and to efforts to end homelessness. Without your commitment to advancing and supporting these efforts and solutions, we would not be where we are today. We know that there is still much work to be done, and with that brings new opportunities for collaboration, risk-taking, and innovation. Funders Together is devoted to be there and support our members each step of the way.
Bill Pitkin is the Director of Domestic Programs at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation in Agoura Hills, California as well as the Board Chair of Funders Together to End Homelessness. Find him at @billpitkin.