On March 10, the Los Angeles Homeless Funders Group hosted nearly 50 foundations to talk about the role of funders networks and collaboratives in preventing and ending homelessness.
On March 10, the Los Angeles Homeless Funders Group, a regional network of Funders Together to End Homelessness (Funders Together), hosted nearly 50 foundation representatives hailing from Santa Barbara to Ohio to Grand Rapids to Boston, and more cities across the nation. Funder participants gained valuable information about the role of philanthropy and the power of networks and collaboratives to prevent and end homelessness.
The day began with greetings from Anne Miskey, Executive Director of Funders Together. She spoke of the important work of Funders Together and how it connects members with each other to promote sharing and implementation of best practices, bridges local work with national efforts, and represents funders’ voices in Washington D.C. around homelessness. Funders Together is able to do this by providing tools that include a networking and learning series, systems change work, advocacy for funders, and more. Anne emphasized that while Funders Together is an educator, connector, and advocate, the organization is strong because of its membership. Members bring forth the stories and examples of what works, pilot programs and innovation, government and sector partnerships, and leverage and align resources.
Presentations following Anne exemplified her description of how members enrich Funders Together and receive support from Funders Together. Michael McConnell from Funders Together San Diego, Amanda Cloud from Funders Together Houston, and Rosa Benitez and Roselma Samala from the Los Angeles Homeless Funders Group, shared stories of the challenges and best practices in the development of their respective regional networks in addressing and ending homelessness. Although each regional affiliate is in a different stage of its development, several themes emerged in their efforts to coordinate public and private funders to collaborate effectively in ending homelessness.
Some key lessons learned include:
- Education and shared understanding: Funders are eager to learn and by bringing in experts, from researchers to providers on the ground to share the homeless interventions that are working, it can bring shared understanding among the participants.
- Data is essential: Data and evidence-based practices can change the conversation and lead funders to pursue homeless interventions not originally considered.
- Building infrastructure is important: When a regional network forms, there may be initial excitement to carry out a project, but ultimately, an infrastructure of governance is important to sustain the work and continually engage participants.
While each regional affiliate shared successes, each also posed questions for the attendees to discuss and consider. Robust conversations ensued and guests reported that they would take back to their respective cities that to end homelessness they must:
- Be agreeable to take risks
- Have a willingness to fail and learn from those failures
- Continue to engage with others doing similar work in other cities and learn from their experiences
The meeting was a success as attendees learned about others’ challenges and lessons learned, along with a greater understanding of funder alignment and collaboration.
Learn more about becoming a member of Funders Together to End Homelessness.
(From L to R: Rosa Benitez, Los Angeles Homeless Funders Group; Anne Miskey, Funders Together to End Homelessness; Michael McConnell, Funders Together San Diego; Roselma Samala, Los Angeles Homeless Funders Group; Amanda Cloud, Funders Together Houston)
“It’s about bringing funders together to promote an efficient and effective system. We know the building blocks, we know what needs to be done, we just have to do it. We can’t solve homelessness until we get the money and resources aligned. We need to get as many stakeholders pulling in the right direction.” – Michael McConnell, Funders Together San Diego
Kristin Aldana-Taday coordinates domestic grantmaking activities for the program department of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. Prior to joining the Hilton Foundation, Aldana-Taday worked for the Liberty Hill Foundation, where she directed donor services with a focus on donor engagement activities and donor advised funds. Aldana-Taday also previously worked for Pacoima Beautiful, an environmental justice organization in Los Angeles. She holds a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and urban studies from the University of California, San Diego.