To achieve Funders Together’s mission of expanding philanthropy’s impact and influence to advance the movement to prevent and end homelessness, we create programming to share emerging best practices, help our members learn from each other, and build relationships between members and partners.
Because of Funders Together programming, events, communities of practice, and regional networks, we create the conditions for funders to learn together and from each other about the best ways for philanthropy to prevent and end homelessness. As a result of our programming, our members report feeling more focused, gaining new ideas to bring back to their communities, and being pushed to think about homelessness in new ways. Our members trust Funders Together to be a place to come for the latest information, best practices, and thought leadership, and our members often invite peers in their community to our programming to collaborate more effectively.
How We're Doing This
Online Learning Opportunities
In 2018, Funders Together increased both the number of online programming offerings and number of funders reached. Funders Together hosted 19 online programs and reached over 220 funders, an increase from the 11 online programs and 160 funders reached in 2017.
We know that to best support the field in preventing and ending homelessness, our programming needs to cover a range of topics related to homelessness and be a balance of both cutting edge and responsive to a constantly changing field. In 2018, our online webinars and member calls shared new research (e.g. findings from SPARC’s Phase I study on racial equity), highlighted the work of our members (e.g. a two-part webinar series focusing on education and youth homelessness), allowed members to hear from experts (e.g. a virtual book talk with The Color of Law author Richard Rothstein), and responded to changing public policy (e.g. co-sponsored webinars about the 2020 Census).
Each year, Funders Together hosts two annual convenings in conjunction with the National Alliance to End Homelessness (the Funders Forum in February and Funders Institute in July), as well as one-off convenings throughout the year. These meetings often change how our members think about issues related to homelessness and allow relationship-building that continues after the program is over.
2018 Funders Forum
The 2018 Funders Forum in Los Angeles in February provided participants with an opportunity to learn about economic mobility, talk directly to HUD officials, and discuss in small groups about specific topics, such as the power of funder networks, working with the media, the connection between homelessness and education, and prevention. The event drew 61 participants from 41 organizations, one of our largest Forums to date.
Participants ranked the event highly, providing the following feedback:
- “Really got a lot out of today. Well structured, terrific speakers, too many good afternoon sessions to attend in the afternoon.”
- “This was my first conference and I was impressed by the presenters and that there were staff members here from HUD and that those were great conversations."
- “Thank you for placing racial justice (equity) as a lens. Please keep it up. The socialization begins here!”
- “Thanks for a wonderful day! Was on the fence about coming but am thrilled I did and hope to be back again next year.”
- “This was the best Funders Together conference I have attended. Great job!”
2018 Funders Institute
The 2018 Funders Institute in July focused on homelessness prevention and how funders can work within other systems to identify opportunities to stem the inflow of people into homelessness. Continuing through the National Conference on Ending Homelessness, funders convened on the following mornings for sessions on public policy and racial equity. The Institute saw 58 participants from 40 organizations.
We are excited to be at the @funderstogether Institute where a group of 40+ funders are sharing best practices on homelessness prevention from across the nation. #FTEH18 #NAEH2018 pic.twitter.com/XAJxtXdxSj— End Homelessness OC (@HomelessnessOC) July 23, 2018
Through past member surveys and anecdotal feedback, our in-person convenings consistently rate highly as some of our most beneficial programming. Participants told us that the 2018 Funders Institutes helped them think about homelessness differently, gave them steps to take towards preventing homelessness, and learn from other funders.
In 2018, we began to develop a more strategic and formal evaluation process for our programming. This evaluation data from the 2018 Funders Institute confirms our belief that the programming and content we develop for these convenings provide important and actionable takeaways for participants.
The data from the 2018 Funders Institute show that, on average, attendees "agree" or "strongly agree" that the event helped them think about homelessness in a new or different way, gave them concrete steps to take back to their communities to engage with other systems, and allowed them to build relationships with their peers.
On a scale of 1-5, 1 being strongly disagree and 5 being strongly agree
Today's program helped me think about homelessness in new or different ways.
When I get home, I am going to take steps to engage other systems to help prevent homelessness.
Today's program allowed me to learn from and connect with other funders.
When asked what participants were going to take back to their communities, the majority mentioned thinking differently about data and inflow into the system, ideas like flexible spending pools, and how to better prioritize cross-system work to prevent homelessness. Participants shared the following feedback from the event:
- “Thank you ... for hosting such an important conference on topics that are truly capable of transforming the way our communities address and resolve homelessness.”
- “The prevention discussion was one of my conference week highlights and I have been talking about it with colleagues! I look forward to continuing to learn with all of you.”
- “As a new participant, it was great being in a space with others wrestling with similar challenges in service of similar goals. The time to share with each other and authentically engage and ask questions was great.”
- “Love the approach to foster small group interactions to allow for meaningful discussion.”
#FTEH18 Love that Vice Chair, Katie shared that @funderstogether is not a static organization! The org is timely, relevant, and a great group to be a part of. pic.twitter.com/9EwcwRjWiP— ktaday1 (@ktaday1) July 23, 2018
Our 2018 Funders Forum and 2018 Funders Institute feedback show that our members value and appreciate the time to learn from one another and that being able to do so is a huge value of being part of the Funders Together network.
Other In-Person Convenings
In 2018, Funders Together organized at least six other in-person convenings. Some of these convenings covered specific topics, such as racial equity (see our 2018 impact report section on racial equity for more information), employment, and youth homelessness. We also spoke to funders in specific communities, such as Phoenix, Chicago, Houston, and California.
Leaders in #philanthropy coming together the last 2 days in Phoenix to plan for our collective work to #endingyouthhomelessness pic.twitter.com/kkx7Zb7t1n— Funders Together (@funderstogether) January 9, 2018
These convenings helped funders across the country understand why they should see housing stability and homelessness as part of their work if they don’t yet do so, connected funders with each other, and shared important research and best practices around ending homelessness. One member shared with us after a meeting with Funders Together:
“Amanda, THANK YOU for sharing at our Funders Committee Meeting this morning and for always inspiring us -- your words of wisdom bring focus to our work!" - Orange County United Way
Our members are also our best advocates in bringing other funders along as part of our network. One prospective member reached out to us, saying:
"I have been urged by [a Funders Together member] to reach out to you, so here I am! She can’t say enough about the support you have provided their team!"
Some of the biggest convenings we organized include the following:
Youth Homelessness Funder Network and Leadership Committee
In 2018, the Leadership Committee for the Youth Funders Network better defined the activities that the Youth Funder Network would engage general members. They refined their activities and narrowed their focus for 2019 to the following goals and objectives:
- Broaden the Tent and Share Strategies. They are committed to increasing the number of funders in the youth homelessness space, as well as increasing the number of funders in the Youth Funders Leadership Committee. They will be demonstrating intersections between youth homelessness and other fields to engage additional funders.
- Promote Advocacy/Policy and Support State and National Efforts. They will be educating funders on their youth and young adult homelessness advocates in Congress and the Administration. They would also like to organize advocacy activities in the districts during recess.
- Advance Race and Gender Equity in Youth Homelessness. They will be supporting and recognizing key equity roles in youth homelessness.
Foundations for Employment and Housing
In its first year, the Foundations for Employment and Housing engaged 12 foundations in exploring the intersection of employment and housing. During 2018, Community of Practice members engaged in learning from and with one another both in person and virtually. The Community of Practice convened in Houston in January and in Baltimore in September. The first half of the year focused mainly on building community and level setting while the second half of the year was dedicated to ensuring that the members were able to use their learnings in their own community with their own work. The group commenced in August by doing Solution Planning to identify the collective action they wanted to take. During this process, Funders Together realized that while some members wanted to contribute to broader efforts, others wanted to have impact on their local communities.
In 2019, the Foundations for Employment and Housing will be focusing on two areas: philanthropy’s role in driving system change and local/national policy and advocacy. The group focused on philanthropy's role in driving system change will have Community of Practice members documenting one of their local efforts to link employment and housing. The second group will be engaging the Community of Practice in developing a set of policy and advocacy recommendations for policy-makers with a public-private partnership lens. These actions will be culminated in resources that will be available for Funders Together members to access and use in their communities and work.
United Ways Ending Homelessness
In 2018, participants in the United Way Community of Practice had the opportunity to connect through their work and discuss how they approach it within their respective communities with an eye to creating system level change. During 2018, in partnership with United Way Worldwide, we were able to engage 10 United Ways. As the group approached another year of working together, they wanted to deepen their learning of system change.
Funders Together Networks
Funders Together began 2018 with three Regional Networks: Funders Together Florida, Funders Together San Diego, and Funders Together Los Angeles. Over the course of the year, two additional Regional Networks have come onboard. Chicago and Baltimore have joined the communities of Regional Funder Together Network. We also supported several communities in starting funder collaboratives focused on specific populations. As our members, and philanthropy in general, learn about the impact regional funders can have working in collaboration, we have seen an increase in incorporating this best practice within local strategies to end homelessness.
In December 2018, Funders Together hosted a call for existing and emerging networks and collaboratives. This provided an opportunity for funders from communities around the country to share lessons learned and opportunities in building a network or collaborative in their community. The participants in the session requested a space to share resources and seek ongoing advice from their fellow funders. Funders Together will be coordinating quarterly calls for the group moving forward.
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