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

Inclusivity Matters: How to Advance DEI Efforts Through Inclusive Meetings

Funders Together to End Homelessness has been intentional about centering racial and LGBTQ equity in our work to end homelessness. In our webinars, resources, and convenings, equity is always part of the conversation. As staff, we have been working to update our internal policies surrounding racial and LGBTQ equity, and we are on a continued journey to be more equitable and inclusive in our external practices and work.


Part of this journey includes learning about how to hold more inclusive meetings. As we incorporate these learnings into all our meetings moving forward, we believe it’s important to share resources and takeaways so others can join us in the journey to create more inclusive meeting spaces.

LGBTQ Inclusion and Equity

In June, Funders Together and True Colors United held a webinar about why gender pronouns matter in the work to end homelessness. This webinar provides information on how to ask for gender pronouns, how to apologize if we misgender someone, why asking for gender pronouns matters in our workspaces, grantmaking, and homelessness services, and how asking for gender pronouns can provide vital support to trans and gender non-conforming people who are experiencing homelessness.

We also have begun to ask for gender pronouns when people register for our in-person convenings. In order to provide context and more information on gender identity, we’ve created this one-pager on pronouns, gender identity, and Funders Together’s commitment to LGBTQ inclusion and equity. We invite you to draw from and use the language in this document to create a similar sheet to disperse at your events, so your attendees understand why you are also asking for gender pronouns. 

If you’d like to learn more about gender pronouns, True Colors United offers some great resources to further your understanding. You can watch their video Pronouns: How do you ask? Or take their free, introductory course to LGBTQ youth homelessness. They also offer an inclusion kit which was created for service providers but can provide you with workplace considerations related to LGBTQ safety, and can be offered to your grantees as well. Finally, to learn more about LGBTQ youth homelessness in order to broaden your knowledge and understanding of the unique challenges LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness face, read their report, At the Intersections: A Collaborative Resource on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness.

To learn more about LGBTQ equity and inclusion in the field of philanthropy, read the report by Funders for LGBTQ Issues titled The Philanthropic Closet: LGBTQ People in Philanthropy.

Honoring Native Land and Other Communities that Experienced Oppression

It is vital that at the start of our meetings we acknowledge whose land we are hosting convenings on. To ignore the violent history of colonialism and the violent removal of Indigenous people from their lands is to continue enacting violence on Indigenous communities. The U.S. Department of Arts & Culture released a guide for how to acknowledge Native Land. They also have a helpful FAQ page that addresses reasons you may hesitate to acknowledge land and how to overcome the hesitation, and how to honor other communities who have lived and experienced violence and oppression on the lands, such as Africans brought here against their will and communities of color who have been pushed out due to gentrification.

Stating Zero-Tolerance Policies

At the start of meetings, there are several other practices we can incorporate to create safer, more inclusive spaces. It is important to begin meetings by explicitly stating a zero-tolerance harassment policy and pointing attendees to a point person they can talk to if they are put in an uncomfortable position.

An example script could include statements like:

  • Before we get started, I’d like to remind you that [organization name] has a zero-tolerance harassment policy. We will not tolerate racism, sexism or homophobia.
  • If you are put in an uncomfortable position or are the subject of harassment during this event, [point person] is available at any time to talk and to provide safety for you.

Removing Barriers for Individuals of Various Abilities

We also are dedicated to creating inclusive meetings spaces for people who are living with disabilities. The structure and logistics of many traditional meetings create barriers to full, safe, and comfortable participation for people who live with a wide variety of disabilities. We must consider making the information presented at meetings accessible in multiple ways, such as:

  • ensuring speakers are speaking into microphones
  • providing warnings for presentations with GIFs and videos for folks with photosensitivity
  • making meeting spaces spacious and accessible for people who use wheelchairs, canes, and other walking assistance.

While it was created for academic meetings, this checklist from Cornell University can be applied to internal, funder, and grantee meetings in order to create accessible meetings for people living with disabilities.

It’s important to highlight that these resources are just a beginning. Our work toward building inclusive and equitable meeting spaces must be ongoing and needs to expand past the meeting room. Equity must be centered in all our work – internally and externally, in our grantmaking, and in our strategies to prevent and end homelessness. Funders Together will continue to add resources to this page and to update our members on how we can advance the work toward equity and inclusion in our meeting spaces and beyond.

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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