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


What does systems change to end homelessness look like? What is the funder's role in creating effective systems?

“When you are confronted by any complex social system … with things about it that you’re dissatisfied with and anxious to fix, you cannot just step in and set about fixing with much hope of helping. This is the one of the sore discouragements of our time. If you want to fix something you are first obliged to understand … the whole system.”
-Lewis Thomas

At Funders Together to End Homelessness, we are seeing an encouraging trend: thought leaders working to end homelessness are focusing not on the results of individual programs, but rather on a systemic approach that addresses the underlying causes of homelessness. Communities are convening in unprecedented ways. Funders are setting aside short-term successes to prioritize sustainable results.

This resource gives an overview of the steps funders can take to lay the groundwork for sustainable, system-wide efforts to end and prevent homelessness. 

We recognize that systems change can be a daunting concept to grasp at times, and it can be even more difficult to implement the following ideas. If you are a funder who would like support in your work to catalyze systems change in your community, please contact Anne Miskey.

This resource is intended for Funders Together members.  You will be asked to login on the next page if you are not already logged in.

Not a member? You can still view our summary of key elements of systems change.  You may also be interested in our 101 guide and our systems change webinar archive.


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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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