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

Magnifying the Power of Philanthropy: Building a Funders Network

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.

anne_miskey.jpgAs 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.



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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