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

Messaging Guide for Funders

Last year, media outlets in San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston coordinated coverage to shine a light on homelessness in their communities. We applaud this effort and hope to see a focus on the real issue: access to safe and affordable housing.

In light of the coverage, we saw a need for shared messaging and examples around how to talk about homelessness. Below are suggested examples and key language that funders can use to frame homelessness issues and efforts from around the country.

Our key messages on ending and preventing homelessness are:

1. SolutionsHousing First models such as Rapid Re-Housing and Permanent Supportive Housing work:

  • Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) has a long-term housing retention rate of up to 98% in one study.
  • Rapid re-housing (RRH) helps people exit homelessness quickly and remain houses – various studies have found between 75 to 91% remain housed a year after being rapidly re-housed.
  • One study found an average cost savings on emergency services (i.e. shelters) of $31,545 per person housed in a Housing First program over the course of two years.

2. Collaborations: Funders working together as a network is an effective and efficient way to enact change. This is working in communities such as Los Angeles and San Diego.

3. Partnership: Philanthropy, as well as the government, cannot do it alone. Private dollars can push and leverage public funding, and building a strong public-private partnership throughout the community can influence and effectively create systems change.

  • In San Diego, the group of funders was able to leverage $240,000 into $10 million of public funding to support the operational expense of to create permanent supportive and convert existing transitional housing.
  • In Houston, Funders Together members are part of The Way Home, a collaborative made up of private-public partnerships utilizing community-wide strategies to end and prevent homelessness. The 2016 Point-In-Time Count showed The Way Home continuing a five-year trend in reducing homelessness - a 57% decrease since 2011.
  • In King County, The Raikes Foundation spearheaded a collaboration of private and public funders who are focused on preventing and ending youth homelessness. Through this collaboration, almost $5 million in private-public funds have been dedicated to the cause.

4. People first: At Funders Together, we stress the importance of being "people first", therefore we say "people/person/family/youth experiencing homelessness" instead of "the homeless" or someone being a "homeless person". We believe that experiencing homelessness should not define a person and encourage you to also put people first when talking about this topic.

We’ve created a resource page on the Funders Together website with resources that can be used to reinforce and support the key points. Be sure to check it out and let us know if you have additional resources from your foundation that we can add!


Social Media

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Funders Together to End Homelessness

Below are sample tweets and Facebook posts that you can share on your social media pages. You can edit to fit your foundation’s voice and provide links to articles, case studies, research papers that support how housing-based solutions work to end homelessness.

Feel free to edit, and use links and hashtags of your own. Some tweets can also be expanded on to create a Facebook post as well, so feel free to crosspost!

In addition, the National Alliance to End Homelessness has provided a very helpful general social media guide with additional social media templates that include data points and resources.


Sample Tweets

How can you help end homelessness? Use your voice! Join us as we talk about solutions to end homelessness #HousingFirst

Access to safe and affordable housing can #endhomelessness. http://bit.ly/29179KZ 

What can #endhomelessness? Here are (insert your handle) funded initiatives that work (insert link

What can #endhomelessness? #HousingFirst! Resources on solutions: http://bit.ly/29179KZ

#Philanthropy working as a network can enact change to #endhomelessness http://bit.ly/29179KZ

#Philanthropy can play a key role in ending and preventing #homelessness http://bit.ly/29179KZ 

#Funders can leverage public $ & provide flexible spending to move needle to end homelessness http://bit.ly/29179KZ

(City) has seen a decrease in homelessness thanks to evidence-based housing solutions (link to case study or local article

Focus on solutions, not temporary fixes, to end homelessness. #HousingFirst! http://bit.ly/28Q2GL4

#Philanthropy is a verb. We must take action & come together to fund solutions that work to #endhomelessness!

Private-public partnerships can effectively create systems change to #endhomelessness http://bit.ly/29179KZ

Sample Facebook Posts

Everyone has a part to play in ending homelessness. It is critical we all come together on solutions that work, including the most direct way: access to safe and affordable housing. Housing First models, such as permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing, connect people to affordable and stable housing as quickly as possible. http://bit.ly/29179KZ 

In 2015, nearly 565,000 people experienced homelessness. 31% of this population were unsheltered, living on the streets or in other places not suitable for dwelling. By funders coming together, we can create collaborations, both within philanthropy circles and through private-public partnerships that can propel solutions to prevent and homelessness, like permanent supportive housing and rapid re-housing. http://bit.ly/29179KZ

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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