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

Using Philanthropic Influence and Dollars in Long-Term Strategy

Last updated: May 5, 2020

Philanthropy has the opportunity to lead in thinking about long-term recovery efforts and systems change. We will continue to add and edit this page with recommendations and examples as the environment changes and we learn more about what’s working. 


Advocate for Systems Change

  • Fund the public and political will building capacity and mechanisms that will drive local and state governments to create and support long-term solutions to ensure those who have been housed during the pandemic do not exit back into homelessness.
  • Push for systemic changes to policies that will further protect people experiencing homelessness, such as a ban on encampment sweeps and the decriminalization of homelessness.
  • Fund strategic communications and messaging campaigns to reinforce the importance of a home not just during times of crisis, but as a human right.
  • Continue to educate local, state, and federal officials about progress being made in the community and also where there are gaps in efforts.
  • Lead and model the process of acknowledging that existing systems are broken and structurally racist. Push community stakeholders to prioritize rebuilding new resilient, anti-racist systems.
  • Assess impact of equity-based decision-making and make mid-course corrections to program design to ensure equitable outcomes. This includes assessing the likely impacts of cessation of eviction moratoria, rent forbearance, unemployment compensation, individual payments, and other policies on homelessness. (A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response)
  • Support the long-term strategic planning on emergency shelter configuration to eliminate congregate shelters in favor of shelters with private rooms and bathrooms to address general and long-term public health issues, and to ensure that all shelters are low-barrier and housing-focused. (A Framework for COVID-19 Homelessness Response)
  • Assess the needs for capacity to continue critical long-term initiatives, such as Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project (YHDP), Grand Challenges, and projects focused on advancing racial equity in housing.



Broker Relationships

  • Provide a virtual convening space for multi-sector community leaders to think strategically about the recovery process. Ensure people with lived expertise are in decision-making seats at the table.
  • Bring partners and funders from other intersecting systems like employment, education, immigration, and criminal justice, to do long-term strategy cross-systems work on an on-going basis.


Keep Racial Equity and People Experiencing Homelessness at the Forefront

  • Support research and equitable evaluation efforts that are multi-culturally valid and oriented toward participant ownership to communicate the effects response strategies are having on public health, community well-being, and the systemic drivers of inequity.
  • Create space to learn about authentic collaboration in policy and funding decisions engaging people with lived expertise. Make sure that people with lived expertise have real power at decision-making tables.
  • Ensure people experiencing homelessness and housing instability, especially people of color and other marginalized groups, understand policies that are being proposed and hear what kinds of permanent policies would help them in the long run.
  • Analyze how your COVID-19 grantmaking contributes to long-term systems change on top of meeting immediate needs.
  • Make sure that the frontline staff, especially in organizations led by people of color, have access to the mental health and other wellness support systems to combat secondhand trauma.



Adopt Best Practices in Grantmaking

  • Start planning your recovery grantmaking strategy, which should center racial equity and systems-change work. Think about what policy changes are needed to prevent people from becoming homeless in the aftermath of COVID-19 and what will be needed to keep people who were housed during the pandemic from returning to the streets.
  • Consider additional grants to cover additional needs grantees might have as a result of COVID-19, such as new technology, mental health support for staff, additional capacity needs, etc.
  • Begin thinking about how to shift more of your grantmaking dollars and processes to support and include people of color with lived expertise and grassroots organizers.
  • Use this moment to educate senior leadership and foundation boards about structural racism and why addressing it must be core to your grantmaking and mission, especially in the work to prevent and end homelessness.



>>>COVID-19 Response and Recovery Recommendations


>>>Immediate Needs



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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