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

Improving Our Knowledge About Ending Homelessness: A Role for Philanthropy

Despite different geographic and population focuses in our homelessness initiatives, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation are unified in our belief that philanthropy can play a critical role in preventing and ending homelessness.

Despite different geographic and population focuses in our homelessness initiatives, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Conrad N. Hilton Foundation are unified in our belief that philanthropy can play a critical role in preventing and ending homelessness.

Some of the lessons we’ve learned from our efforts to end homelessness include:

  • Grant funding should go toward evidence-based interventions that have been shown to end homelessness, such as coordinated entry, permanent supportive housing, rapid rehousing, and tailored services;
  • Because the causes of homelessness are complex and span many issues, we must engage in systems change and cross-sector collaboration, through our grant making as well as our convening and advocacy roles;
  • Connecting mainstream public systems, such as Medicaid and Welfare, to the hard work of ending homelessness is critical to our success; and
  • Good data is essential. We should support research and evaluation to inform both our own investments, but also those of other philanthropic and public sector funders

Regarding this last point, our foundations have engaged expert researchers to evaluate our current homelessness initiatives, and we each recently released extensive reports from these efforts.

The reports are very different in many ways due to the distinct scopes of our initiatives, but they also share some key characteristics. First, they provide independent assessments of our efforts from well-respected homelessness experts and researchers. Also, they are initiative evaluations, meant to measure the overall impact of our grantmaking and partnerships, not just that of individual grants. They are both quantitative (measuring results and impact through hard numbers) and qualitative (measuring the impacts of a broad range of activities).  Finally, but no less importantly, they are meant to support learningfor our foundations and our many partners working to end homelessness. They inform us of what is working and where we need to improve.

While these reports are probably of most interest to stakeholders in Los Angeles and Washington State, we hope that they are also useful to Funders Together members across the country.  We encourage you to review these reports and learn from our successes as well as the challenges and setbacks we have encountered in our collective efforts to end homelessness.

We believe that philanthropy can play a catalytic role in ending homelessness. Evaluation and learning—and sharing what we learn–can help all of us increase the success and impact of our efforts to end homelessness.

Additional Resources

Bill_Pitkin_2011.jpgBill Pitkin oversees the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s domestic priority areas.  He also serves on the Funders Together Board. Find him at @billpiktin.




David_Wertheimer_2012a.jpgDavid Wertheimer is the Deputy Director of the Pacific Northwest Initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, as well as the Board Chair of Funders Together to End Homelessness. Find him at @DavidWSeattle.



Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

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

Sign in with Facebook, Twitter or email.