More and more communities across the country are recognizing that there is incredible power in funders working together.
At a recent conference on ending homelessness, a presenter from a national organization made the comment that Funders Together Houston, a local funders network, had been a “game-changer” in that community. By coming together, public and private funders in Houston had changed the conversation around supporting vulnerable individuals and families and were working to create a system–not just individual programs or agencies–that was both effective and efficient in ending homelessness and building stability for the most vulnerable in their city.
In fact, more and more communities across the country are recognizing that there is incredible power in funders working together. They can magnify the work they do and create real and lasting impact, through their funding, through advocacy, and by building bridges with the public sector and with other systems of care. Funders’ networks, or collectives, have grown up in cities like Los Angeles, which recently announced funding opportunities that combined private and public funds for sustainable, long-term impact. And Washington State has a long history of funders coming together and, collectively, they have not only leveraged federal dollars, they have helped shift public resources into areas that are more effective in solving homelessness and supporting vulnerable families and individuals.
Like many cities across the country, Phoenix has been hard hit by the economic downturn and, as a result, has seen an increased number of people experiencing homelessness. A few years ago, the funders in that community came together to deal with increasing emergent situations, recognizing that by working together they could do more. Now they are looking to the next step: moving beyond the safety net into leveraging their power to affect real and lasting change. Valley of the Sun United Way, working side by side with other funders in the community and the public sector–from the Mayor of Phoenix to other local, county, and state officials–is poised to be a real catalyst for change in their city and county.
Over the last few years, we have seen more and more funders–foundations, United Ways, corporate funders, and individual philanthropists–recognize that they must move beyond “feel good” philanthropy, to “do good” philanthropy and that they can be a catalyst for creating change and for building strong and resilient communities, not just strong programs or strong non-profit agencies.
Now we are seeing a further shift to models of collective impact: joining together to focus on systems change and solutions to deep social problems. There is the increased recognition from funders that collectively they can learn about their community and the homelessness system, begin to more clearly understand the vital role they play, and learn how they can leverage resources and actions which solvethe problem rather than simply managing it.
Creating true, community wide impact through a funders’ network is not an easy or a quick solution, but itis effective and it can be a game changer in your community. If you are interested in finding out how you can start a funders’ network, or if you would simply like to connect with other networks across the country, let us know. Funders Together offers support and assistance to any funder interested in working together, and we can connect you with others across the country who are engaged philanthropy that will have a lasting impact in our communities.
As Executive Director of Funders Together, Anne brings years of expertise in both the corporate and not-for-profit sector. She is passionate about promoting the philanthropic community’s catalytic role in ending homelessness, working with government to create public-private partnerships, and advocating for funding and policies which end, rather than manage, homelessness.
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