Harness philanthropy’s expanding potential for impact and change to help end homelessness in America
As housing and social service cuts increased and the economy deteriorated across the United States, homelessness emerged as a significant problem in the 1980s. Historically, we addressed homelessness through emergency shelters and transitional housing. Today, with more than a decade of research and experience under our belts, we know that increasing access to housing and supportive services while simultaneously focusing on prevention is a much more effective and efficient approach.
Philanthropy has an important role to play in ensuring that these evidenced-based approaches are encouraged and funded throughout the United States.
Funders Together to End Homelessness began in 2004 as the Partnership to End Long-Term Homelessness (PELTH)—an informal network of seven national funders including Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Fannie Mae and the Fannie Mae Foundation, Melville Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Deutsche Bank who came together to focus on ending chronic homelessness. Their goals were twofold: 1) spur the creation of 150,000 units of permanent supportive housing and 2) leverage $100,000,000 in funding for ending homelessness.
PELTH members recognized that their partnership addressed a problem they often encountered in philanthropy: information about best practices, innovative solutions, policy, and opportunities to align funding was often fragmented, failing to reach many grantmakers working on homelessness and related issues.
Through their work, our founders saw an opportunity to broaden their focus from chronic homelessness and the creation of housing to all types of homelessness and systems change. They identified a need for an independent organization to facilitate information sharing and be the voice of philanthropy, poised to advocate on behalf of effective and strategic solutions to homelessness.
This prompted the creation of Funders Together to End Homelessness.
In 2010, Funders Together became a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that focuses on building a national network of funders who are committed to solving homelessness through:
- Leadership, education, and advocacy;
- Strategic collaboration and grantmaking; and
- Effective promotion and replication of best practice models in their communities and across the nation.
To date, Funders Together members have individually and collaboratively invested millions of dollars in pursuit of our mission to end and prevent homelessness. Our members have supported innovative demonstration programs, Housing First, permanent supportive housing, rapid re-housing, and health care and social service delivery that have become best practice models for solving homelessness. Our members are also actively engaged in systems change work, investing and participating in cross-sector collaborations to end homelessness at the local, state, and federal levels.
Today, Funders Together to End Homelessness remains the only philanthropic membership organization devoted to ending homelessness in America. We have recently expanded our membership into Canada and we have several regional affiliates working in their communities to create change at the local level.
We now have three primary goals as a network:
Improve grantmaking. We aim to improve grantmaking to prevent and end homelessness by keeping funders apprised of best practices and innovation in the field; compiling and sharing the latest data, research, and trends; and offering guidance through tools, research, and experts in the field.
Increase collaboration and alignment. Community efforts to end homelessness are exponentially more effective and efficient when funders align their strategies, outcomes, and evaluation metrics. We foster and develop opportunities for public-private partnerships, regional funders networks, and alignment around best practices.
- Advocate for change. Funders who want to truly end and prevent homelessness must engage in advocacy efforts in their respective communities and/or at the national level. Through advocacy, philanthropy can help reduce policy barriers, leverage funds, and create bridges between different systems to have a real impact on ending and reducing homelessness.
Our movement is growing. We hope you will join us.
Funders Together to End Homelessness is not a grantmaking institution. If you are a grantseeker, please click here.
Please note, Funders Together does not have the capacity to directly aid or refer people who are in immediate need of assistance. However, we do know of some places that may be more helpful in this regard. Immediate sources of aid in your community can be found by consulting your local department of social services or your local branch of the United Way. You may also find it helpful to consult this directory of homeless service providers.