A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

Advocacy for Funders

 


Communities often face a number of policy or administrative hurdles when attempting to address homelessness: city officials may criminalize homelessness, policymakers may choose to support short-term rather than long-term solutions to homelessness, government funding for vital programs may be cut. Individuals and families facing homelessness also interact with many different systems (housing, health care, employment, education etc.) and funders have a unique vantage point to connect the dots, ensuring that we adequately address the needs of the people we are trying to serve.

Advocacy, a key component of a systems approach, becomes essential if we are to overcome these hurdles and remedy the complex issue of homelessness. Funders who want to truly prevent and end homelessness can and 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 reducing and ending homelessness.

Recognizing that foundations have legal restrictions on lobbying activities, it is important to note that advocacy is not limited to lobbying - though it is an important component and something foundations can support through funding of advocacy organizations. Beyond that, foundations can, and often do:

  • Educate the public about ways to end and prevent homelessness, and dispel myths about people experiencing homelessness;
  • Inform/educate policymakers and public officials about homelessness;
  • Engage other funders in their communities to share information and learn about best practices for ending and preventing homelessness;
  • Build relationships with community leaders and a common understanding of why homelessness persists; and
  • Use philanthropic dollars to leverage change.

 

Funders Together Resources

Policy Priorities for the Next Administration

We believe philanthropy has a voice in addressing homelessness with the upcoming Presidential administration and advancing solutions to prevent and end it. As Funders Together to End Homelessness prepares for the administration transition, we are focused with our national advocacy partners on the continuation to make preventing and ending homelessness a bi-partisan priority and have outlined our policy priorities in this new resource.

The Legal Limitations on Lobbying

Funders can and should be advocates for policies and funding streams that can end and prevent homelessness. Understand the legal restrictions on private foundations’ advocacy efforts with this resource.

Funders Together's Policy Principles

While there are numerous policies that may affect homelessness services and prevention, we stand behind these key policy principles.

Equity and Advocacy Resources

At our 2016 Funders Institute, we focused on two very important topics for philanthropy: equity and advocacy. As part of an ongoing effort to provide support and programming on both issues, we've compiled resources that can aid you in starting and continuing the conversation around these topics in your work to prevent and end homelessness.

  

From Our Members

Campion Foundation - Advocacy Spectrum and Tools

CASE STUDY: The Campion Foundation’s Journey to Advocacy

 

Other Resources

Bolder Advocacy: An Initiative of Alliance for Justice

A Foundation’s Guide to Advocacy

Published by Council on Foundations, this report explains “lobbying” versus networking and includes a step-by-step guide to contacting policymakers.

Barr Foundation and MASSCreative's Webinar: Political Advocacy 101

Leveraging Limited Dollars: How Grantmakers Achieve Tangible Results by Funding Policy and Community Engagement

This report from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy discusses best practices and the impact of philanthropic dollars devoted to advocacy.

 

Funders in Action: An Example of Funder Advocacy
Texas education grantmakers knew that they needed to act when the state government cut $5.4 billion from the education budget in 2011. Funders began seeing the impacts quickly; requests for grants increased dramatically from organizations that used to receive support from public schools and public-private partnerships were in danger of falling apart. In response, funders formed the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC) to push back against the massive spending cuts. Because the group was focused on the budget -- and did not get into political ideologies or education reform debates -- it was able to convene and mobilize an unprecedented number of grantmakers throughout Texas. TEGAC also invested $100,000 in research to help shape the public narrative. The programs affected by the budget cuts were the same programs that studies proved to be effective! In May 2013, the Texas legislature reinstated $4 billion out of the $5.4 billion in education funds. Although TEGAC did not take credit for the restoration of funding, the mobilization of funders and the broad support for advocacy had a tangible statewide impact. Read more about this story here.


View blog posts on advocacy

 

Please contact Amanda Andere if you would like to discuss advocacy issues further.

 

     

 

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation


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